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Full text of "Malta : the nurse of the Mediterranean"

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MALTA 

THE NURSE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN 



MALTA 

THE NURSE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN 



BY THE 

REV. ALBERT G. MACKINNON, M.A. 

CHAPLAIN-MAJOR 

SENIOR PRESBYTERIAN CHAPLAIN, MALTA 

Author of" The Making of Hector Cameron ," "A Fight Lost 

and Won," " God's Right of Way through a Young Man's 

Life" " Truths of To-day: A Young Mans Creed" etc. 



HODDER AND STOUGHTON 

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO 

MCMXVI 




i Great Britain by Haxett, Watson Vinty, 
Lyndon nd Aylftbury. 



TO 

FIELD-MARSHAL LORD METHUEN 
G.C.B., G.C.V.O., C.M.G. 

GOVERNOR AND COMMANDER-IN-CIIIEF 
MALTA 



FOREWORD 



BY His EXCELLENCY LORD METHUEN, 

GOVERNOR AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 

OF MALTA 

IF the hospital arrangements have 
proved satisfactory, if the lives of 
80,000 patients have been made 
happy during their time in Malta, a great 
amount of the credit is due to the philan- 
thropic work carried out on the island. 

What has struck so many besides myself 
is the unostentatious, quiet manner in 
which the help has been given good 
organisation, no waste of the money so 
generously given. 

There has been no friction, no over- 
lapping. 

The British Red Cross and St. John's 
Ambulance Societies, the Scottish Church, 

9 



Foreword 



the Church of England Institutes, the 
Young Men's Christian Association, have 
one and all given a helping hand, and 
earned the gratitude of everyone in Malta. 

Malta has been given a good opportunity 
for doing good, and she has faced the 
situation splendidly. 

To no one do I tender my thanks more 
truly and warmly than I do to Rev. Albert 
G. Mackinnon, S. C. F. Presbyterian, one 
of the foremost leaders in this labour of love. 

METHUEN, 

P.M. 
THE PALACE, 

MALTA. 
August, 1916. 



CONTENTS 



FOREWORD, BY HIS EXCELLENCY LORD PAGB 

METHUEN .... 9 

INTRODUCTION .... 13 

CHAPTER I 

AT SEA IN WAR TIME . . . ig 

CHAPTER II 

MALTA HOSPITALS .... 40 

CHAPTER III 

A SAD MARCH PAST 60 



CHAPTER IV 

THE LAND OF THE OPEN HAND 

II 



Contents 



CHAPTER V 

MALTA RAINBOWS . ,. . .. 103 

CHAPTER VI 

IN LIGHTER VEIN , V .. 126 

CHAPTER VII 

ORGANISATION . . . 1 149 

CHAPTER VIII 

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW . . l66 

CHAPTER IX 

A SCOTTISH PICNIC . . . V 187 

CHAPTER X 

UNDER CANVAS . *a . . 2O2 

CHAPTER XI 

CHRISTMAS IN MALTA ' . . f * ? 21 6 

CHAPTE RXII 

RELIGIOUS WORK AMONGST THE 

WOUNDED V . . V 238 

12 



INTRODUCTION 



MALTA has assumed the role of 
nurse. I ought perhaps to say 
resumed ; for when Filippo 
Villiers de L'Isle Adam took possession of 
this island in 1521 at the head of his 
Hospitallers, the Knights of St. John of 
Jerusalem, one of the first things he did 
was to build a hospital. With the Crimean 
War and Florence Nightingale nursing 
became a new profession for women, and 
Malta had a foremost share in those epoch- 
making days, when women found a rallying 
place beside the flag as well as men. 

Never in her history, however, did Malta 
reach forth her arms, bared for the task, 
to receive such a burden of suffering 
humanity, the human wreckage of battle, 
as in the summer months of 1915. It is to 
tell you the story of these days that this 
book is written. I want to bring you with 

13 



Introduction 



me into these packed wards, where the air, 
despite the best ventilation, is heavy with 
the smell of iodine and the sickening odour 
of lacerated flesh, where men silently grapple 
with pain or their last enemy death. 

In the latter days of May I found myself 
in the stream of skilled men and women 
who were hurrying East to help our stricken 
heroes to fight and, if possible, win this 
struggle in the wards, one that demanded 
greater powers of endurance than the 
conflict of the trenches. The surgeons had 
their instruments and their medicines, the 
nurses their training ; the British Govern- 
ment sent me and other chaplains because it 
believes that " man doth not live by bread 
alone." 

The following chapters are sketches drawn 
from life, glimpses of wards and men as seen 
by the eyes of a chaplain whose sacred 
privilege it was to walk a little way with 
our sufferers in the dark valley, and to hear 
and see some things that it is not lawful 
to repeat, and others that it is well the 
world should know. 

14 



Introduction 






The pronoun " we " often recurs in these 
pages, and the reason is that on the day I 
received the short summons to go the " we " 
decided not to separate, but that husband 
and wife would go together, although the 
future had great uncertainties. Thus as 
chaplain I was able to carry on a dual 
work ; one half of me the better half 
cutting and buttering bread in the morning 
and making tea in the afternoon for the 
thirsty soldiers who sought the shelter of 
our Club ; while the other half was in the 
wards whetting the appetite of recovering 
men by telling them what grand teas they 
would get when they were able to limp 
abroad. 

I stepped into a growing organism when 
I landed in Malta. Like mushrooms hos- 
pitals were springing up everywhere, off- 
shoot buildings were becoming entities. 
Schools grew into hospitals in a night, and 
then spread round them their white skirts 
of canvas tents. But there was order and 
method in it all. ... It was fortunate that 
at that moment there was at the head of 
15 



Introduction 



affairs in Malta a Field-Marshal, whose 
genius for organisation had made him one 
of Britain's great generals. His Excellency 
the Governor, Lord Methuen, not only 
planned the construction of the rising 
camps, but kept a watchful eye on each 
detail, and by his constant presence in the 
ward encouraged the sufferer. Especially 
his ready sympathy and help towards all 
true effort was a great strength to those 
whose aims reached farther than the mere 
healing of the body. The religious workers 
knew and felt that they had a friend in the 
Governor, and everything that could be 
done to facilitate their work received his 
speedy sanction. His kindly Foreword to 
this book is but an illustration of his 
willingness to assist wherever it was possi- 
ble, and as long as the tale of the Malta 
Hospitals is told there will live the gracious 
memory of the Governor who fathered the 
stricken sons of Empire placed under his 
care. 

My gratitude is due to a number of 
magazines and newspapers to whom I am 

16 



Introduction 



indebted for reproducing, in somewhat 
different form, much of the material first 
served to them in the shape of sketches. 
These include The Scotsman, The Sunday 
at Home, The Westminster, The Christian 
Herald, The Christchurch Press, The Otago 
Witness, and last but not least The Greenock 
Telegraph, for to this latter paper I am 
indebted for having any story to tell. 
Through the generosity of its publisher and 
Editor it opened its columns not merely to 
my articles but the need which they 
pictured, and its readers held out such a 
helping hand to Malta, that we were able 
to start and maintain our club for wounded 
soldiers, and on every week-day of the year 
provide for them a substantial tea free of 
charge. As you read the story you will 
learn how others joined in assisting the 
work, but we can never forget the one who 
gave the first shove off. I am also greatly 
indebted to Colonel Ballance for his kind 
assistance in procuring for me many of the 
medical facts mentioned in this volume. 



CHAPTER I 



AT SEA IN WAR TIME 

WHAT one is not permitted to tell 
is, of course, the most interest- 
ing part of a voyage in war 
time. However, even when that is sub- 
tracted there remains enough to give 
piquancy to what otherwise is a common- 
place experience. 

The novelty of travel in these war days 
begins at the very start. The familiar 
hotel in London was unfamiliar in its inner 
aspect. In the hall a pile of soldiers' 
accoutrements was the first thing to meet 
the eye. Khaki overcoats hung from every 
peg in the cloak room, and graceful figures 
clad in blue with shoulder strap and star 
flitted about the rooms. These were 
Canadian nurses who had just arrived and 

19 



At Sea in War Time 



were bound for the front. Very smart 
they looked. Their dress seemed to be 
fashioned after the pattern of the American 
officers' uniform. Most becoming it was, 
and there were plenty of stars. So many, 
in fact, that they all seemed to be superior 
officers, and one wondered where the private 
came in. Perhaps in this contingent there 
was none, and all these capable-looking 
young women were meant to command 
instead of obey. A duty for which none 
appeared unequal. 

The boat train first brought home to us 
that we were bound for foreign parts, and 
that on the railway platform the pathos of 
war eclipsed its glory. Like canny Scots 
we had broken the regulations and stuck 
by our baggage in these uncertain times. 
Only light luggage was supposed to be 
taken on this express, and the porter who 
stepped forward so eagerly to open the 
door of our taxi opened more widely his 
eyes. But we had a clear conscience, and 
with that one can face even stern officialism. 
If there were thirteen pieces of baggage of 

20 



At Sea in War Time 



all sizes we knew that their contents were 
not all personal. Many of them were filled 
with parcels of generous dimensions for our 
brave soldiers in the East. The thoughtful 
generosity of friends sent us not empty- 
handed away, and it is reassuring to carry 
not merely a message of comfort on the lip 
but a token of sympathy in the hand. 
Thus were we armed, and so red-tapeism 
lost its terrors. It was represented by an 
official who was prepared to weigh small 
baggage, and who looked at the growing 
pile on the porter's barrow with dismay. 
How we got past him need not be told. 
Veteran travellers will guess, others must 
learn by experience. I had secured our 
porter as an ally and he worked wonders, 
and what did not go into the van went into 
the carriage. We had gone early and so 
chose an empty compartment. 

We were not, however, to have it to 
ourselves. We had just got ourselves 
comfortably ensconced when two Indian 
nobles were ushered in. They were dressed 
as British officers, and wore khaki turbans, 

21 



At Sea in War Time 



and were returning from the front. Fine 
specimens of Indian gentlemen they were, 
most courteous in manner and agreeable as 
fellow-passengers. There was a third who 
joined the others later, and the trio were 
an object of interest throughout the voyage. 
One felt a thrill of pride in our great Indian 
Empire as we looked on these Eastern 
princes who had so loyally drawn the sword 
in defence of the mother land. 

At last we were on board the Malwa, and 
our thoughts went at once back to Greenock. 
The big ship as she lay in dock seemed too 
solid to be pitched about by the waves, but 
we had yet to learn the strength of the 
ocean. Even the Malwa was to stagger 
before the blows of the Atlantic. 

Again there was a parting, and this time 
it was the last. Khaki-clad figures leaned 
over the ship's rail, and on the wharf stood 
groups of women. British courage perhaps 
reaches its height at such a trying hour. 
Small talk, like handy change, was useful 
that moment. The big things were behind. 
Within the heart was the unutterable, 

22 



At Sea in War Time 



while on the lip was the ready sally. The 
women were not less brave than the men. 
Though tears were not far away, yet they 
were out of sight. Smiles hid them. 

One of those insignificant incidents that 
sometimes happen relieved the tension. 
The gangway had been drawn, and im- 
perceptibly the big ship was drifting from 
the wharf, the gulf which for some would 
never be bridged was already widening. 
At that moment a gentleman attempted to 
throw a letter ashore. It fluttered in the 
air for a moment, and then dropped short 
into the water. A rather burly policeman 
ran for a grappling iron, and his efforts to 
fish up the soaking envelope absorbed 
attention. It was a bit of delicate balanc- 
ing, and sometimes he would have the 
letter almost within reach when it would 
drop back into the sea, and a humorous 
groan from deck and wharf announced his 
failure However he was nothing daunted. 
He had taken to heart the story of Bruce 
and the spider. Meanwhile the distance 
was steadily widening. At last a cheer 
23 



At Sea in War Time 



went up, the voices on board blended for 
the last time with those on shore. The 
policeman had won ! He was holding the 
dripping letter in his hands. Such was 
the final parting, and if the whole burlesque 
had been planned it could not have served 
a better purpose. 

Usually one takes a casual glance at one's 
stateroom, and then thinks of food. But 
this was to be no ordinary voyage. The 
last papers put into our hands told of the 
sinking of the Elder Dempster liner in the 
Channel, by a German submarine, and it 
was rumoured that two were lying in wait 
for a bigger haul. Therefore an article 
that is usually kept out of sight on a top 
shelf became a matter of importance. How 
soon it would be needed no one could tell. 
This was the life-belt. The newer type is 
less intricate than the older one ; but even 
the method of handling it has to be learned. 
So I got the steward to give me a lesson in 
the tying of the slip knot, and the right 
adjusting of this body belt information 
which I was able to impart later to others. 

24 



At Sea in War Time 



Next in importance was the introduction 
to the Captain with which Dr. Caird had so 
kindly furnished me. On a P. and O. Liner 
the name of its builder is one to conjure 
with, and it had immediate results. The 
place of honour on a ship is the Captain's 
table, but more to me than the honour is 
the information which is thus put within 
one's reach. The one man who knows 
what is going on is the Captain, and news 
on shipboard is ten times more valuable 
than in the land of newspapers. The 
smallest item is as food for a starving man, 
and is feverishly devoured by the ravenous 
passengers. Especially is this so on a 
voyage in war time when there are no 
Marconigrams except the naval messages 
which are meant for the Captain alone. 

Hence it was a delight to find that we 
were especially invited to sit at the little 
table with the Captain, for the meals are 
served at small tables in the dining saloon. 
Here also were some most interesting 
people, the wife of a British Admiral going 
out to see her husband, an officer who had 

25 



At Sea in War Time 



been wounded at the front and who had been 
given a Mediterranean command, a judge 
of the Supreme Court, and a lady, much 
travelled, whose son-in-law held a high 
position in the Greek army, and who was 
a mine of information on the Balkan 
States. The Captain, who was courtesy 
itself, and whose conversational art was 
to draw your opinion rather than give his 
own, chatted and chaffed with a ready wit, 
as if German submarines were not lurking 
for their prey. He did not, however, 
underestimate the danger, and when con- 
versation turned to such a topic as life- 
belts he gave his opinion seriously. 

No sooner had we started than we were 
reminded in an ominous way that the 
threat of the enemy was a reality. The 
boats were got ready and slung out on their 
davits. As I watched the Lascars at work, 
I realised that the launching of one of 
these big life-boats is not a thing which 
can be done in a moment. It took fully 
an hour before all the boats were made 
ready for lowering. Directions were posted 

26 



At Sea in War Time 



up telling the passengers what to do in the 
case of being torpedoed. Those in the first 
cabin were to meet in the saloon with their 
life-belts on, and the boats would be loaded 
from the hurricane deck. 

While on board every precaution was 
being taken against sudden attack in the 
Channel itself, vigilance was personified in 
the restless destroyers as they raced up 
and down splitting the waves with a grace- 
ful curl. One of these stopped us at the 
mouth of the Thames, and directions were 
given there as to our course to the next 
patrol. 

At last we were under way, with our head 
down Channel and our screws driving us at 
sixteen to seventeen knots. We passed the 
slower going tramps, but soon we were re- 
minded that we were not the fastest craft 
afloat. Hidden behind a curl of spray a 
destroyer came dashing up. It swept along- 
side, and a sharp, short command was 
shouted through a megaphone. Later its 
purport leaked out. We were ordered to 
make for a certain English port. Many 
27 



At Sea in War Time 



were the conjectures as to the reason for 
this, and now that we know what it was it 
is better that it should not be made public. 
Suffice it to say that on Sunday forenoon 
instead of being well on our way we found 
ourselves in harbour. The excitement and 
distraction caused by what was taking 
place around us caused the Captain to 
forgo the usual service. All on board were 
on deck and too absorbed in the unusual 
scenes to be gathered together in the saloon. 

Alongside of us lay a big liner which had 
just come in, and it was rumoured that 
she had rammed and sunk a German sub- 
marine. However, the Captain gave us 
later the tale by the right end. The sub- 
marine had chased and fired at her but she 
had managed to escape. 

Again we were off, and soon we saw the 
shores of Old England dipping below the 
horizon, and we were settling ourselves 
down to the usual pastimes of a voyage, 
when suddenly the engines ceased, and all 
looked with a start towards the sea. A big 
wave and behind it two funnels belching 

28 



At Sea in War Time 



smoke showed that another destroyer was 
racing towards us. It circled round our 
ship, another order was given, and the 
Malwa was put about and headed back to 
the port we had left. 

There was no lack of conversation now, 
and conjecture was rife, what did it all 
mean ? We counted seven explanations 
which were repeated as authoritative ; but 
the men on the bridge kept silent. Later, 
when we got back to port and learned what 
it was, any grumble at the loss of time was 
silenced, and all felt happier for the guar- 
dian care of the British navy. 

Once more we were off with a destroyer 
on either side, and it looked as if we were 
driving a tandem of spirited steeds. Their 
presence reassured us, and though many 
slept with their life-belts on their sleep was 
undisturbed. 

Monday morning found us alone on the 
broad seas. There was a general feeling 
that danger was past, until at half-past ten 
the alarm bell sounded through the ship. 
Almost with the first stroke could be heard 
29 



At Sea in War Time 



the tramp of hurrying feet, the men rushing 
to their posts at the boats. We seized our 
life-belts and along with our fellow-passen- 
gers hastened to the saloon. Here an 
animated scene presented itself. All had 
collected there, and everyone was busy 
fastening on their life-belts. What sur- 
prised me was that there were so many who 
had not learned how to adjust them. The 
method when known is simplicity itself, 
but it is very easy to make a fatal mistake. 
The pathetic touch was added by the sight 
of two little children, who had four minia- - 
ture life-belts fastened round them, and 
who were looking in wonderment at this 
apparently new game. 

Then the Captain came on the scene. The 
alarm had been given to test us and see 
what we would do in real danger. He 
examined carefully the fastening of each 
life-belt and pulled the slip knot to see if 
it were tied properly. Then he gave us all 
a few directions as to how we were to act 
if the alarm should again sound in real 
earnest. 

30 



At Sea in War Time 



Such is life at sea in these perilous days. 
Its gaiety is not lessened. The deck games 
go on as before, but there is a sense of con- 
stant preparedness for a sudden emergency, 
for the innocent looking waves may hide a 
cruel foe. On each deck Lascars are con- 
stantly scanning the sea for sight of a peri- 
scope, and even the passenger's eyes are 
often lifted from book or deck quoits to 
cast a furtive glance at some breaking crest, 
which for the moment seemed like some- 
thing else. 

The eeriness of plunging through the sea 
in the darkness at seventeen knots an hour 
with lights out is one of the sensations of 
war time. It was equalled by the un- 
canny feeling one experienced in the im- 
provised concert-room which had been 
erected one night on deck. For, of course, 
there must be the usual concert or else cer- 
tain charitable funds would be the losers. 
Besides, we had more than usual reason 
for it on this voyage, for had we not on 
board the smallest man and woman in the 
world as well as the largest, and surely the 
31 



At Sea in War Time 



tall, energetic man in charge of the troupe 
was the best showman that ever lived, so at 
least we all thought, including, I feel cer- 
tain, the Indian Princes, who forgot their 
royalty in their laughter. 

The concert hall would have been the 
open deck in normal times ; but how care- 
fully screened it was now with canvas so 
that no chink of light might betray the 
passing of the liner. We got that night 
what the Australians and New Zealanders 
will be enjoying for months to come. The 
smallest man and woman had other gifts of 
entertainment besides their size, and the 
conjurer made one feel that there was no 
use passing round the hat, for he seemed to 
be able to draw everything imaginable out 
of his mouth, even money. 

Nor must one forget Jones, the Bluejacket, 
who already had become the popular hero 
of the voyage, for other reasons which I 
cannot narrate. He sang a song and was 
cheered to the echo, and when he left the 
ship at Gibraltar there was universal sorrow. 

I could not help thinking of the contrasts 
32 



At Sea in War Time 



that night. The merry company hidden 
under the shelter of the canvas, the anxious 
eyes on bridge and deck peering into the 
darkness, and somewhere out on the tos- 
sing waves, a half human serpent gliding 
stealthily along on our track seeking for a 
chance to drive home its fatal sting. Such 
is life, but I must not stop to philosophise. 
Gibraltar in war time wore a sterner 
aspect than usual. I had just got out of 
my morning bath, and in my dressing gown 
stepped on to a quiet corner of the deck to 
view the frowning cliff of Britain's greatest 
fortress, when I saw the conjurer of the 
night before preparing to take a snapshot. 
But other eyes were watching, and an 
officer laid his hand on the upraised arm 
before the click of the shutter sounded. No 
photographs are permitted, and indeed the 
authorities are not very anxious about 
strangers coming ashore. We took a 
carozze and paid our respects to the United 
Free Church minister stationed there, and 
in turn were taken by him to see his church, 
and the new stained glass window presented 
c 33 



At Sea in War Time 



by Sir Ian Hamilton. So the short sojourn 
quickly passed, and we left with a bird's- 
eye- view impression of this guardian citadel. 
It will be a daring foe that will ever attempt 
to bring down the British flag from that 
proud eminence. 

The sail along the African coast was one 
of the most delightful experiences of the 
voyage. We came so near to land, that every 
house was visible, and the streets in Algiers 
were quite distinct. Then we bethought 
ourselves of Malta, and in the grey dawn I 
first saw the white cliffs gleaming out of 
the haze, with the surf wildly dashing 
against their foot. There was a heavy roll 
as our ship slowed down and steered for the 
narrow entrance to Valletta harbour, not 
without danger, for even here the enemy's 
submarine had been sighted. Then fol- 
lowed a scurrying of hundreds of little 
dghaisas, and in one of them, under a mili- 
tary helmet, I recognised the well-known 
features of a Greenock minister. It was a 
delight to hear the kindly tones of Rev. 
Donald Campbell's voice. Under his escort 

34 



At Sea in War Time 



we were soon getting a taste of what is to be 
our every day experience, a tossing in the 
frail but skilfully manipulated dghaisas. 
We raced for the shore. Two fellow passen- 
gers bound for the Far East had accepted 
our invitation to lunch, and they and we 
were charmed with the rooms which Mr. 
Campbell had so well selected for us. 

The Rev. Mr. Primrose, who had just re- 
turned from the Dardanelles, joined us also 
at lunch. Thrilling were the stories he 
told us of the terrible fighting through 
which he and our brave Scottish lads had 
passed. Our hearts swelled with pride as 
we listened to his account, though we have 
been greatly saddened by the news of Lieut.- 
Commander McKirdy's death. Already I 
have come across a number of the Anson 
Division lads, but must reserve their stories 
to later. We enquired at once for Lieu- 
tenant Fraser Brown, but learned that he 
had left again for the Front. 

Someone remarked to me before leaving 
that if I were to see the bestial brutality of 
war I could never again preach a war ser- 
35 



At Sea in War Time 



mon. I have seen something of its in- 
describable horrors already, too awful to 
describe. My heart melted as I stood 
by a brave man who was dying alone in a 
corner of a hospital, as his eyes glazed, and 
his bearded face took on the fixity of death. 
I remembered he was somebody's darling, 
and here was I a perfect stranger, the only 
one with him at the last. All this but 
deepens one's indignation at the war and 
the miscreants who in their foul passion 
have devastated homes and trampled under 
foot all that is noblest and best. To-day 
as my wife, Mr. Campbell and I stood by 
the door of one of the many hospitals here 
an ambulance drove up and a wounded 
officer was carried on a stretcher into the 
building. He had just arrived from the 
field of battle, the coat he wore was all 
splotched with blood. He had been shot 
in the eyes, and the ambulance man told us 
that he would never see again. Yet as they 
lifted him he made a cheery remark that 
caused them to smile. Such is a sample of 
the pathos and the pluck war reveals. 

36 



At Sea in War Time 



Already the wounded soldiers are finding 
out our room, and the generosity of the 
kind friends at home is filling it in the even- 
ing hours with tobacco smoke. How these 
boys revel in the little touch of home life, 
and enjoy their tea ! It would gladden the 
hearts of the donors of the gifts we brought 
to see how they are appreciated. Mr. 
Campbell has dubbed our two waiters 
" Henry the First," and " Henry the 
Second. " They are ever smiling and ever 
ready, and are kept busy bringing hot water 
to fill the homely teapot. It is the womanly 
touch that is worth more than all a chap- 
lain's words of counsel. It is worth the 
risk of submarine and heat, and I believe 
that the service rendered through the tea- 
pot, for the Maltese do not know how to 
make good tea, will do as much to com- 
fort and help our Scottish and Colonial 
soldiers, as the more official work of the 
chaplain. 

Nothing has touched me so much as the 
splendid spirit exhibited by our brave 
fellows. It is beyond all words. Not yet 
37 



At Sea in War Time 



have I heard one word of complaint or even 
an acknowledgment of pain. But yet it 
is all inexpressibly terrible. I must reserve 
for another occasion the thrilling stories 
which already I am beginning to hear, and 
a description of this thoroughly eastern 
town which interests at every point. The 
f aldetta hooded women, the straggling goats 
who seem to have a right-of-way on the 
busiest streets and pavements, the carozze 
men who dog your steps on the chance of 
a sixpenny fare, the swift dghaisas as they 
race across the heaving waves, for the waters 
round Malta never seem at rest, all give an 
air of novelty to surroundings that in them- 
selves charm by their brilliant contrasts of 
colour. Through this maze of moving 
humanity passes the well-known figure of 
the Gaelic United Free Church minister of 
Greenock ; though his people might 
scarcely recognise their minister under the 
shade of his big helmet, and as I watch him 
I feel that Mr. Campbell is a born chaplain. 
There is not a Greenock lad in Malta whose 
heart has not been warmed by his sym- 

38 



At Sea in War Time 



pathetic grasp and words, and not a ward 
he passes through where a smile is not left 
on the soldiers' faces through his ready if 
pawky humour. As I write I seem to hear 
his voice as he took me on my first rounds, 
and said on entering each ward, " Are 
there any Greenock or Scotch lads here ? " 
and there would come an answer in perhaps 
a cockney voice " Yes, sir, you'll find un 
in the heighth bed," and sure enough there 
is a face already smiling its welcome at the 
sound of a Scottish voice. 



39 



CHAPTER II 



MALTA HOSPITALS 

THE silence of Valletta in war time 
is what impresses the visitor. 
Not that it is silent. The cries 
of street vendors, and all the ordinary 
noises of a congested town added to the 
voluble talk of its inhabitants make 
sound enough ; but even that babble is as 
silence compared with what Valletta used 
to be. The bells have stopped, and the 
world has not come to an end. From the 
vigour with which the hundreds of them 
used to be beaten from one quarter of an 
hour to the other, it seemed as if the place 
were making a frantic effort to avert some 
impending doom, and in the mind of the 
peasant this thought was not far away. 
The effort has ceased, and the heavens have 
not fallen. 

40 



Malta Hospitals 



THE SILENCED BELLS 

Napoleon tried to silence the bells of 
Malta but he failed. A British medical 
officer has thus accomplished what the 
great Emperor could not do. Colonel Bal- 
lance, with the sympathy of a true surgeon 
for the thousands under his charge, had 
the matter of the bells brought before His 
Grace the Archbishop of Malta. His Grace, 
with his usual readiness to assist all work 
for the wounded, ordered the bells to cease, 
and so there was silence. A great debt of 
gratitude is due to the head of the Roman 
Catholic Church for his courageous and 
generously minded act, and also for the 
splendid lead he has given his people at 
this time in all patriotic service. Not the 
least of Scotland's gifts to Malta has been 
its archbishop. 

But it is of the hospitals I wish to speak, 
where so many wounded are finding a 
temporary home. Malta has assumed the 
role of nurse, and her breakwaters seem like 
arms stretched out to receive her burden of 
41 



Malta Hospitals 



suffering. Once the hospital ship has 
passed within their shelter the rolling 
ceases, and the wounded feel that they 
have reached a haven of rest. 

Quietly big barges come alongside, and 
almost tenderly the steam cranes lower the 
stretchers, swinging them gently into their 
places. Thus they are brought ashore. 
Valletta hospital is the one that is nearest 
and most easily reached, and it is being 
made a sorting base. It is one of the old 
buildings in the town, and has been a 
hospital for generations. Low-lying, one 
might at first think it unsuitable as a health 
resort. Yet once inside its thick, ancient 
walls, and you feel as if you had passed 
beyond the reach of the sun. The very 
solidness of the old masonry acts like a 
refrigerator, and within there is coolness. 

Here is said to be one of the biggest 
wards in the world, with its two hundred 
beds, and it is a touching sight to look down 
its great length and see every cot occupied. 
Here are many of the dangerous cases 
which it would be unwise to move farther. 

42 



Malta Hospitals 



Nurses, orderlies, Boy Scouts move quietly 
about. The latter are employed to run 
any odd errands for the men, to post their 
letters, and bring them magazines. Very 
useful and smart these Maltese lads are. 
A big courtyard affords a shady lounge for 
the convalescent, and once a week a 
concert is held there. A well staffed, 
thoroughly equipped hospital is the verdict 
of the visitor. Worthy of its ancient pedi- 
gree, it still ministers to the wounded as in 
the days of the old knights. 

FULL OF ROYAL SCOTS 

Across the harbour on a height which 
the breezes fan stands the hospital of Cot- 
tonera. It is not too big, and its awning- 
shaded verandahs are full just now with men 
of two battalions of the Royal Scots If an 
interesting view is a tonic the inmates do 
not lack that stimulus. There are some 
trees in the foreground, and the touch of 
green in the constant glare of white sand 
and stone is soothing to the eye. Beyond, 
the town slopes down to one of the numer- 
43 



Malta Hospitals 



cms bays that open out into the grand 
harbour. Skimming its surface like flies 
are the restless dghaisas, which flit from 
shore to shore, or swarm round some newly- 
arrived liner. Across on the farther shore 
are tiers of white buildings too dazzling to 
look at, where Valletta climbs its rocky 
heights, that are topped by ancient stone 
bastions. It is all very picturesque, and 
the view must often cause the wounded 
men to forget their own suffering. 

NAVAL DIGNITY 

Across another creek or bay from Cot- 
tonera, proudly isolated on its own penin- 
sula is Bighi Hospital. There is a seclu- 
siveness about its position in keeping with 
its character. It is naval, and is conscious 
of all the dignity that belongs to the first 
service. It has more to recommend it than 
dignity, and any visitor would give it a 
first place amongst the Malta hospitals. 
There is a roominess about it that suits 
the man accustomed to the broad seas. 
Besides, it stands on a promontory that 

44 



Malta Hospitals 



catches the first breezes from the Mediter- 
ranean. Fortunate is the patient who finds 
himself domiciled here. From Deputy- 
Surgeon-General Lawrence Smith down to 
the latest arrived nurse there is the con- 
sciousness of great traditions that have to 
be maintained, and the frank kindliness of 
the deck is repeated in the ward, as is also 
the discipline. 

We recross back to Valletta and its heat, 
and visit now Floriana Hospital that gets 
the sun. You cannot reach it without 
having first to run the gauntlet of sun- 
stroke, for somehow the sun seems to have 
the range of this blistering spot, and per- 
haps that is why it has earned so flowery 
a name ! 

Here are huge blocks of buildings. Once 
inside you forget, of course, their external 
monotony of design, and you are not 
tempted to look out except through coloured 
glasses. Yet here the work of healing goes 
steadily on, and men fight flies instead of 
Turks. 

Floriana has this advantage, however, 
45 



Malta Hospitals 



that when the men begin to move about 
they are at the centre of things. The 
recreation halls opened for their benefit in 
the town are at their door, and so as con- 
valescents they have a better time than 
others. 

Two miles farther out the hot dusty car 
track is Hamrun Hospital, an inspection 
of which is well worth the annoyance of 
getting there. It must be a delight to a 
doctor's heart. It recalls to mind the 
story of a bride. She was being con- 
gratulated by her friends, and they all 
used the same adjective about her husband 
calling him a model man. In her curiosity 
to learn the exact meaning of the word she 
consulted a dictionary and discovered that 
model was a " small imitation of the real 
article/* 

THE GROPING HAND 

Hamrun is small, but a model. Of 
course, it is quite new, and, therefore, 
might be expected to have all the latest 
improvements. It exhales an atmosphere 

46 



Malta Hospitals 



of up-to-dateness. Here all eye cases are 
being sent. In one of its wards I witnessed 
a pathetic scene. As I passed along I saw 
a hand groping above the blankets. It 
belonged to a patient whose eyes were 
shaded. I guessed its meaning. It was 
feeling for sympathy. The man was suffer- 
ing, and he craved for the human touch. 
I put out my hand, and in a moment his 
closed round it and in the tremulous pulse- 
beat I read a telepathic message of comfort 
and relief. He was blind, and for the time 
speechless, all communication from the 
outside world was therefore by touch, and 
somehow in the short time I held his hand 
I felt that we were able to say quite a lot 
to each other, perhaps more to the point 
than if the thoughts had been put into 
words. I think he knew I was a chaplain, 
and that I was trying to convey the great 
truth, " The Eternal God is my refuge and 
underneath are the everlasting arms." 

Come now to the largest hospital on the 
island. We descend first of all to the 
bowels of the earth by a sloping tunnel, and 
47 



Malta Hospitals 



there we find a train waiting. With much 
puffing and waste of coal dust we emerge 
at last into the open, and get a view of 
Malta country life in the patches of land 
that are still unbuilt. It is like a congested 
Palestine. These little fields are all walled 
in, and have their watch tower to guard 
against thieves. Truly, a country like an 
individual carries its character in its face ! 
Here, too, we see the Biblical methods of 
threshing, the oxen treading out the corn, 
and the Maltese unwillingness to accept its 
spirit, for the animals are all muzzled ! We 
pass the old town of Citta Vecchia, which 
invites inspection and makes a good living 
on its historic past. But as it is not a 
guide-book I am writing, we will turn a 
deaf ear to the importunities of the army of 
guides on the platform who extol the 
wonders of catacomb and church. Another 
tunnel, and we have completed our eight 
miles by rail and reached the terminus, 
and see on a height before us block upon 
block of newly-built buildings. This is 
Imtarfa Hospital, the largest on the island. 

48 




sf 

a 

3 3 



Malta Hospitals 



The older part was originally barracks, now 
it has been greatly added to, and we have 
an array of wards capable of holding 
1,200 patients. Its isolation and its eleva- 
tion have determined its scope. Thither 
are being sent infectious diseases and en- 
teric cases. A glance at the mosquito 
netted beds tells its own tale, for flies are 
quick to diagnose certain fevers, and try 
to get a chance of digging into the hot skin 
and carrying away the infection to inject 
into some healthy victim. 



WHEN THE CRUTCHES ARE DISCARDED 

It is a far cry from here to St. Andrew's 
Hospital, which is second in size. Our best 
way is to face the engine soot again and 
take the train back to Valletta, and cross in 
one of the ferry boats to Sliema, and drive 
from there along a hilly road for about three 
miles. It is crowded just now with men 
in khaki. They get the princely allowance 
of 2s. a week, and therefore cannot afford 
to hire a carozze unless they club together, 
D 49 



Malta Hospitals 



which they often do. But they are ex- 
periencing a new-found pleasure in the use 
of their limbs. For a man who did not 
know whether he would ever be able to 
walk again, and has had a taste of crutches, 
even a trudge in the heat has indescribable 
attractions. To feel that his limbs are all 
there and working is worth perspiring for. 
These are the men who have reached the 
last stage of their several fiittings in Malta, 
and are now at the Convalescent Camp, just 
above St. Andrew's, christened by the 
Governor the other day " All Saints/' 
Their next move will be the Dardanelles 
once more, and we will be kind enough to 
wish that we may never see them back 
again in Malta ! 

We have not time to stop at St. George's 
Hospital, which we pass on the way, and 
which has the distinction or disqualification 
of being worked without women. The first 
time I passed through its wards I felt that 
there was something lacking. The men of 
the R.A.M.C. may know their business, and 
make excellent nurses, but there is truth in 

5 



Malta Hospitals 



the complaint one of the wounded made to 
my wife in a confidential moment. 



" NO ONE TO TUCK YOU IN " 

" There is no one to tuck you in and say 
good-night/' he remarked wistfully. 

I think St. George's must hold out no 
longer, but haul down the benedict flag, 
and welcome the sisters. Since writing 
the above this has been done. 

St. Andrew's also stands on a hill, and 
has a magnificent set of buildings. If it 
is smaller than Imtarfa it can only be by a 
few beds, and it excels in its imposing 
architecture. 

In this hospital there is one accomplished 
little nurse to whom I have quite lost my 
heart. Do not say it is shocking until you 
hear the end of the tale. There is always 
an end to everything, and sometimes very 
different from the beginning. So one 
should reserve judgment. I am sure if 
you could see her you would all admire her 
just as much as I do, especially the boys 



Malta Hospitals 



and girls. She is very perky yes, that is 
the right adjective and a great favourite 
with the men, though with the cooler 
weather her duties will not be so urgent. 
I must confess that when I discovered her 
I found reasons for going back to visit her 
hospital more than some others. She is 
doing her bit, only she spells it with an 
added " e," and the men all try to woo her 
to their bedside. She cocks her little head 
and looks at them so wisely, though I must 
admit there is a little cupboard love in her 
attentions, and she has an eye for some- 
thing else something that is a nuisance to 
them and a delight to her. She perches 
herself on the edge of the bed, then hops on 
to the patient's arm, and there is a fly less 
to bother. There, I have given my secret 
away. She is a little bird called the fly- 
catcher, and right zealously does she do her 
bite. 

But even these great hospitals have 
overflowed their limits. To the back long 
rows of wooden huts have quickly risen. 
In fact they look like a little village, in 

52 



Malta Hospitals 



America they would certainly be dignified 
with the title of town, if not of city. They 
bear the appropriate name of the apostle 
who was the pioneer in Malta of the healing 
art, St. Paul. His shadow is cast every- 
where in this island, but surely nowhere 
does it fall with greater fitness than in the 
wards where men and women try to undo 
with skill and tenderness the havoc of the 
battle-field. 

Farther up, cresting the height with its 
snowy canvas, is St. David's camp. The 
big marquee erected by the Guild of the 
United Free Church of Scotland towers in 
the centre like a mediaeval castle above the 
clustering roofs of the town it shelters. 
Here the fresh air cure is united with the 
art of the surgeon, for a breeze seems always 
to fan these streets of tents, and when 
Valletta is in liquidation with the heat St. 
David's has still to its credit a breath of 
air ! 

Now we will return, for All Saints' Camp 
does not concern us at present. It is not 
a hospital. At Spinola we stop. We enter 

53 



Malta Hospitals 



its scattered encampment with some hesi- 
tancy, for it has changed its character so 
often that we are in doubt whether to 
reckon it a hospital or not. But if we have 
arrived at the right time, we will find many 
of its tents filled, not merely with the men 
who have been cured and who are waiting 
to rejoin their regiments, but with others 
just beginning the process. 

If I were giving a prize for the most 
artistically laid out camps I would make 
a short leet of St. Patrick's and St. David's, 
and then toss up for the choice. I have 
seen both emerge from their swaddling 
clothes of mud, and blossom into gardens 
with their tents dotted amongst the rich 
bloom of flowers, and it has seemed like 
one of the conjuring tricks of the East. 
Here the Y.M.C.A., which has done so 
much for Malta under the superintendence 
of Mr. Wheeler, has erected a large wooden 
hall, and men can listen there to concert 
or lecture without being disturbed by the 
flapping of canvas. 

But we must hurry on, if we are to have 
54 



Malta Hospitals 



even a bird's-eye view of the scenes round 
which are woven the stories of these pages. 
St. John's hospital is an imposing building. 
It was the newest school in Sliema, and one 
envies the children who will have such de- 
lightful classrooms. I asked our chaplain 
there, the Rev. William Cowan, what was 
distinctive about it, and he replied the 
desire on the part of its patients to come 
back to it again. That certainly is a good 
certificate of character for any hospital, 
though I do not think that it is the only 
one in Malta that has earned this com- 
pliment. 

We have scarcely time to do more than 
look in at the little hospital of St. Ignatius, 
which is hidden away in the suburbs of 
Sliema. To pass into its cool corridors on 
a burning day is refreshing for the visitor, 
and what must it be for the patient ! The 
wards here with their old-fashioned thick 
walls have managed to shut out the sun, 
and in Malta the most highly appreciated 
blessing is shade. Someone has likened life 
here in summer to sitting on a red-hot 
55 



Malta Hospitals 



brick, that is gradually getting hotter. So 
you can imagine that the cool spots are 
little heavens, and St. Ignatius is one of 
them. Perhaps its patients may not agree 
with me, but then they do not know what 
the other hospitals are like, and it is only 
by contrast that you can judge. 

OUTWITTING THE GUARD 

Forrest Hospital stands on a hill, and its 
discipline is pretty strict. One day an 
Australian patient, to whom a rule was like 
a red rag, determined to go out without 
permission, but naturally he was stopped 
by the guard at the gate. He was not to 
be baulked, and he said so ; but the guard 
only smiled. However, he laughs best 
who laughs last. The Colonial got twenty 
others of his fellow-countrymen to 
" bunch " as they call it and to make a 
rush through the open gate. It was only a 
lark and they wheeled round and came back, 
but not the whole twenty ; one had slipped 
away unobserved, the instigator of the plot ! 

56 



Malta Hospitals 



Next we come to Tigne. Its base is sea- 
washed, and the breezes burdened with the 
brine ought to be a tonic to its inmates. 
Its high blocks almost depress with their 
monotony, and when you know that they 
are full to overflowing with suffering 
humanity, the heart of the visitor sinks. 
Manoel is a little world by itself. On a 
jutting peninsula, with only a bridge as a 
neck, it is cut off from the rest of the island. 
Isolation determines its character, for here 
one finds many infectious cases. 

I have not yet spoken of St. Elmo or 
Baviere Hospitals; both have the attrac- 
tion of an interesting seascape. In the 
former is a soldier who has to undergo 
to-day his eighteenth operation. He was 
quite cheery last night, and spoke of the 
operating theatre as a matter of course. 
One can get accustomed to almost anything! 

Now I have reached the limits of my 
chapter before I have got to the end of my 
story ; but I have tried to give you a 
passing snapshot of the principal hospitals 
of the island, and in so far as they have 

57 



Malta Hospitals 



distinctive characteristics to emphasise 
such. May you never test the accuracy 
of my sketch by experience. If you do, 
you will say that half has not been told of 
the comfort and the kindness enjoyed by 
our wounded in the Malta Hospitals. 

The Blue Sisters' Hospital must not be 
forgotten. Of it many an officer has 
grateful memories. From its balcony a 
magnificent panorama stretched itself of 
distant town, and sun-lit waters, and stone- 
fenced fields. Through its cool corridors 
the Sisters were ever flitting in their 
picturesque garb with noiseless steps on 
their errand of mercy. 

In a word one might sum up the general 
scheme that governed the arrangements 
of the hospitals in Malta. 

First there were those of which I have 
spoken in this chapter. These were for 
the more serious cases. Then there were 
the Hospital Camps, a new feature, which 
I think had never been tried before, where 
the patients were housed under canvas 
instead of in a building. These have 

58 



Malta Hospitals 



proved most successful. Next were the Con- 
valescent Camps, of which I will speak 
more fully later. To one of these the 
recovering patient was sent on quitting 
hospital. Last of all was the Concentration 
Camp, or stepping-off place. Here the 
man who had passed through the other 
stages was once more in full regimentals, 
and awaited a ship to take him back to the 
front. 



59 



CHAPTER III 



A SAD MARCH PAST 

IT is not from the saluting flag that I 
am going to ask you to view the 
march past of our brave soldiers, 
but from the hospital ward. They come in 
an endless procession, halt maybe for days 
or weeks, and then pass out. Some go to 
rejoin the colours, and step out again 
briskly to the sound of the drum ; some 
with a smile on their wan faces go home ; 
others are carried out to their " long home." 
Under the shady trees of Pieta there are 
many new-made graves, and the chaplain 
stops on his return from another funeral 
beside a little plot and thinks of a boyish 
face that had looked up at his so wistfully 
and frankly from the pillow. 

" He was a brave lad," he murmurs to 
60 



A Sad March Past 



himself ; " and it did me good to know 
him." 

That face is looking into some other heart 
far away, and its smile brings a sweet ache, 
and the longing to see the lonely grave at 
which the unknown chaplain is the only 
mourner. 



THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESSION 

The march past first comes into view at 
the harbour mouth. Heaving slightly on 
the swell outside is a stately ship, with a 
big red cross painted on her side. 

As she passes into the still waters behind 
the breakwater the wearied sufferers on 
board feel a soothing stillness. The engines 
have stopped, and the swinging has ceased. 
There is no noisy bustle about the arrival of 
this ship, even the crowds of dghaisas keep 
away. Then quietly great barges movealong- 
side, cranes creak, and a strange burden 
rises from the deck of the ship, is swung 
over the side, and lowered into the waiting 
barge. It is a stretcher with a motionless 

61 



A Sad March Past 



form upon it. From under the light cover- 
ing two feet are visible at one end, and a 
head, possibly bandaged, at the other. 
Never did the arm of steel handle its burden 
more gently. A mother's hands could not 
lay her babe to rest in its cradle more ten- 
derly than does the unconscious crane place 
its living weight in the closely packed line 
of stretchers on the barge's deck. Then 
comes the journey ashore. Rows of ambu- 
lance waggons are waiting, but the Malta 
streets were not made for wounded, and 
many a sharp pang there must be ere the 
shelter of the cool hospital ward is reached. 

" It was like heaven to get here/' mur- 
mured one wounded man to me. Some 
sleep actually for days after their arrival, 
and " Nature's sweet restorer " is their 
best nurse. 

How quickly the wards fill up : For the 
usual salutation at breakfast is, "I see 
there is another ship in to-day from the 
Dardanelles." 

Its passengers have now become the 
chaplain's parishioners. 

62 



A Sad March Past 



PARISHIONERS 

As the chaplain comes quietly along the 
rows of beds to see the new arrivals he is 
impressed with the stillness of the ward, a 
cooling peace pervades it. There is suffer- 
ing, but it is scarcely articulate. How 
brave our heroes are ! If all Britain's 
sons are of the same stuff we are un- 
conquerable. 

Thanks to the generosity of Greenock 
friends, and the kindness of the Greenock 
Telegraph, both Mr. Campbell and myself 
are supplied with a welcome gift for each 
sufferer ; something that will enable him to 
withdraw his thoughts from his pain in the 
shape of interesting magazines or papers. 
Until they came there was a dearth of any- 
thing to read, especially in the hospitals 
outside Valletta. 

The coming of them perhaps deserves a 
notice. Having seen with ^ my own eyes 
the growing heap on the floor of the Tele- 
graph Office before I left Greenock, I was 
able to reassure my friends that the. pro- 

63 



A Sad March Past 



mised help would be ample when it would 
arrive ; but in Malta at present that is a 
matter of great uncertainty. Letters come 
in weeks late, and one may be glad to get 
them then. The great art of officialdom is 
to hand an importunate enquirer on to 
somebody else. It reminds me of a card 
game I used to play called " The Old Maid." 
The successful player was the one who 
could best pass on to his neighbour the fatal 
card. 

At last we got word that in some part of 
the naval dockyard there were parcels which 
were not munitions. We hired a conveyance 
and started off in pursuit. A casual street 
accident revealed the Gaelic minister in a 
new light, as I saw him holding down the 
head of a horse which had fallen. I managed 
to get a wound in my thumb, which made 
my friend remark that he did not know I 
had such a lot of good blood in my veins 
before. In this climate wounds bleed pro- 
fusely. A handy ambulance man tied me 
up, and we were off again in search of the 
Greenock bundles. We might not have 

64 



A Sad March Past 



found them had it not been for a lucky 
encounter which verified the text, " Cast 
thy bread upon the waters and it will 
return unto thee after many days." In one 
of the offices we entered was a corporal who 
had tasted of our teapot, and at once he put 
himself and everybody else about to get on 
the right trail. At last, after another 
drive, we reached a store-room, and there 
our hearts were delighted to see facing us 
bundle upon bundle of well-packed litera- 
ture. It took six men to carry them to our 
conveyance, and though we paid our man 
two and a half times more than we had 
bargained with him for, he left us with a 
last reproachful look at the pile of parcels. 
The fact that it was mostly " light " litera- 
ture did not affect its weight ! 

However, now, thanks to Greenock gene- 
rosity, we are well equipped for our work, 
and we never start our visiting without 
taking a large bag well packed with maga- 
zines and Testaments. The latter are 
always welcomed, for most of the wounded 
have lost theirs, and the men who have 
E 65 



A Sad March Past 



faced death and barely escaped from it 
have a hunger for " The Word of Life." 

HUMOUR IN THE WARD 

Occasionally the sad work is lightened by 
a ray of humour. Mr. Campbell, going 
through one of his hospitals recently, came 
on a man who seemed to be suffering 
severely. 

" Can I do anything for you ? " he asked 
in a sympathetic voice as he bent over 
him. 

" There is one thing I would like," an- 
swered the soldier. 

" What is that ? " was the ready answer. 

" I wonder if you could tell me where I 
could get an orange ? " 

" Oh," interrupted the generous-hearted 
chaplain, " leave that to me, I will find 
some for you." 

As he left he did not notice the look of 
mystification on the man's face. Now, the 
orange season is past in Malta, and though 
a few months ago there was a super- 

66 



A Sad March Past 



abundance of them, at present it is the 
most difficult of fruits to obtain. How- 
ever, difficulty seems to add zest to my col- 
league, and certainly he never spares him- 
self. There was a lady at whose house he 
had been in the country, and he had seen 
her orange groves and remembered. To 
her he hastened with his story of the poor 
soldier who was suffering, and who had 
taken such a craving for an orange. Most 
kindly she sent to her gardens to have her 
trees searched for the last orange of summer. 
There was more than one discovered, and 
Mr. Campbell returned next day to the 
hospital with a parcel of generous dimen- 
sions, and a glad heart. He had secured 
"the water from the well of Bethlehem," 
not without effort, and he was anticipating 
the glad look of joy on the orange-hungry 
man's face. 

When he reached his bedside he was sur- 
prised at another kind of look, and all the 
lame and limp in the ward had gathered 
within earshot at Mr. Campbell's approach. 
There was unmistakably a smile lurking 

67 



A Sad March Past 



about their mouths, which might do them 
as much good as oranges. 

" Here they are/' said the chaplain en- 
thusiastically as he laid his burden on the 
bed. 

" Did you not get my letter ? " asked 
the wounded soldier. 

" No," was the surprised reply. Evi- 
dently there was something that needed an 
explanation. 

" I wrote you immediately after you 
left. I saw afterwards that you had mis- 
understood my meaning/' remarked the 
sufferer. 

It was now the chaplain's turn to look 
mystified. 

" Your letter has not reached me yet/' 
he said. 

Meanwhile the oranges were lying neg- 
lected. It seemed as if the Bible story of 
the dearly secured water, which was un- 
used, was going to be repeated. 

" What I wished to ask for," said the man 
with a smile, " was not oranges, but an 

Orange Lodge." 

68 



A Sad March Past 



At this there was a general ripple of 
laughter. 

" Well, perhaps these oranges may do 
you more good, and be less exciting/' re- 
sponded the chaplain, as he handed over 
the fruit to be enjoyed along with the 
joke. 

Here is another story which I hope all 
Presbyterians will live up to, and I trust 
other denominations will pardon. 

I was going my rounds, and in one ward 
I asked, 

" Are there any Presbyterians here ? " 

" Yes," came the answer from a bed. 
" The man opposite me is one." As he 
spoke the wounded soldier pointed to a 
vacant cot. Its occupant was evidently 
out. 

I went over and read the name on the 
card. 

" You are mistaken," I answered, " this 
is a C.O.E. man." 

' Well, I thought he was a Presbyterian, 
because he is always reading his Bible." 



69 



A Sad March Past 



THE CRUTCH WALK 

I call it this, for it describes the third 
stage in the march past. Now we see the 
men who are becoming convalescent. They 
can get beyond the ward, some on the arms 
of their companions, some on their own feet, 
and some on crutches. When they get the 
length of the streets where are they to 
go ? This is a most important question, 
for temptation lurks at every corner, and 
somehow at the most critical point the mili- 
tary authorities seem to think that their 
special care terminates, except for certain 
orders, which, alas, are too easily evaded. 

The need was so urgent that Mr. Camp- 
bell and I felt that something must be done. 
Of course the people in Malta are very kind 
to the wounded. They are given theatre 
entertainments, and sometimes garden 
parties, but what the poor fellows need to 
keep them straight is a home and a kindly 
Christian atmosphere. 

So we got our hall, and had it opened with 
a tea. Mrs. Mackinnon takes charge of 

70 



A Sad March Past 



this, and it occupies her whole time. In 
the forenoon she is busy preparing cool 
drinks lemon squash which are given 
gratis to the thirsty men, for everyone has 
a thirst here. At 2 p.m. the hall is opened, 
and from then until 7 p.m. there is a con- 
stant stream in and out of the halt and 
lame. Already the tables are loaded with 
the magazines and papers sent from Green- 
ock* We have provided writing material 
and many a mother's heart at home will 
be gladdened because her son found the 
cool hall with its ink and pens. Also there 
is a piano, and it is wonderful how musical 
the soldiers are. Tea is served free to all, 
and fifty loaves a day are sliced and spread 
with butter and jam and given to our 
wounded without charge. But I shall refer 
more fully to this club in a subsequent 
chapter. 

THE OUTWARD BOUND 

Crutches have now been flung aside, and 
we hear the brisk beat of a drum. A 



A Sad March Past 



column of men in khaki is leaving for the 
front. Malta has done its work and left 
pleasant memories. We follow them to 
the harbour, and witness another March 
Past that thrills us with pride. Transport 
after transport, laden with troops, rest for 
a few hours in the shelter of these waters 
and then move on towards the sound of 
the guns. 

Let us pause on the Barracca, and look 
down on this other empire of Britain, her 
domain of the sea. Perhaps nowhere is it 
seen to better advantage. I do not mean 
the mere waste of waters, for from deck and 
headland their defiant strength, which 
human brain and muscle have curbed, 
may be viewed with far grander effect ; 
but I speak of a world of greater interest, 
which has its home on the deep a race of 
men liveried in woollen jersey, oil-skin, 
brass buttons, and gilded braid. 

There in the centre of the harbour 
swings at anchor an ugly, dull-coloured 
mass of floating steel. It is a British 
cruiser. Her three short, black funnels, 

72 



A Sad March Past 



the bores of her long guns pointing fore 
and aft, make a sombre silhouette against 
the glittering sea. Like a stinging reptile 
of the ocean, she crouches in the waves ; 
or rather, like a coffin, in a garden of flowers, 
she jars on the senses. Death, cruel, 
horrid, is suggested by her dusky sides, 
save for one mast with its cross-spar. 
Yet, to-day, there is a human touch about 
her ; grotesque it may be, but welcome, 
if not to the eye, at least to the heart 
she has her washing out : Ribbon lines 
of white relieve the sternness of her 
bows. 

Gliding out into the blaze of sunshine is 
a sight that rouses within one the spirit 
of one's ancestors. The tall, tapering masts 
of a full-rigged ship make a stately outline 
against the sky ; from a network of ropes 
and tackle her yards stretch gracefully out 
until, as silently, majestically she moves 
outward behind the puffing tug, you in- 
stinctively call her " Queen of the Sea." 
Like a phantom of the past she flits noise- 
lessly amidst that scene of belching funnels 

73 



A Sad March Past 



and churning screws, and you appreciate 
the poetic as well as the heroic touch in 
the time-worn title, " The wooden walls of 
Old England." 

But the harbour invites a closer in- 
spection. 

A chaplain's work is full of variety and 
opportunity if he is quick to seize it. As 
an illustration of this let me give you a 
glimpse of the last two days, and you will 
see how it was the unexpected opportu- 
nity that was the most fruitful of interest 
and results. 

Mr. Campbell and myself started in the 
morning in our dghaisa to visit a fortress 
and hospital some distance away. As we 
crossed the harbour my friend's quick eye 
detected the presence of a new steamer lying 
at anchor, the Baron Ardrossan. 

" Let us see if there are any Scots on 
board/' remarked my indefatigable com- 
panion. 

We turned our boat in and alongside. 
Red-tape demands passes for almost every- 
thing here, and certainly for boarding a 

74 



A Sad March Past 



Government ship. But those who know 
Mr. Campbell will agree that he carries his 
certificate in his open kindly face, and when 
that is united with a strong will, it will be 
readily understood that the officer at the 
deck end of the rope ladder yielded to our 
sudden assault. Mr. Campbell's heart was 
delighted when he heard that there were 
eighteen Gaelic speaking sailors on board. 
They were at a meal in the fo'c'sle at that 
moment, and thither we went in a blazing 
heat that made the iron deck seem like 
burning coals under our soles. 

I never saw such a look of astonishment 
on men's faces before as when we put our 
heads into the close mess-room. But it was 
intensified when Mr. Campbell uttered some 
magic words in Gaelic. The knives and 
forks literally dropped out of the crew's 
hands in their amazement, and I saw a 
wondering smile break over their bearded 
and begrimed faces. 

Of course I could only be a spectator, but 
I saw that my friend held them from the 
start. What he was saying I did not 

75 



A Sad March Past 



understand, only at intervals I saw them 
lift their hands in answer to some question. 
We always carry some literature with us, 
for which we are most grateful to our 
Greenock friends and others. The ship 
was sailing at 4 p.m., but we promised to be 
back again at 3 p.m. and hold a service. 

About our real errand that day, which 
has become side-issued in this story, and 
about the stirring tales told us by the men 
fresh from the blood-stained fields of the 
Dardanelles I must speak again. It was 
the unexpected incident that left on us the 
deepest impression. 

After lunch, accompanied by Mrs. Mac- 
kinnon, the three of us set out. Again we 
boarded the Baron Ardrossan and were re- 
ceived most courteously by the captain and 
chief officer. Seats were arranged on the 
bridge deck, and the Highlanders were 
called there. A deck chair was provided 
for Mrs. Mackinnon, and the service began. 
I have been at many impressive religious 
meetings, but few have equalled this in 
uniqueness of feeling. The very strange- 

76 



A Sad March Past 



ness of it appealed to the men themselves. 
They never had had a religious service 
before on board. All around sounded the 
creaking of cranes and the puffing of donkey 
engines with the confused noises of a ship 
preparing to get under way. Suddenly 
the unaccustomed strain in such a place 
began to penetrate the din and rise above 
it. It was the melody of a Gaelic psalm 
to the tune of Kilmarnock. I saw the 
" Sassenachs " on the deck stop in their 
work and look up in amazement, and well 
they might, as they listened to those 
eighteen men singing praise to God. A 
very rough looking lot a casual spectator 
might say. They had just been summoned 
from their work and came as they were. 
Some were barefooted, all were perspiring 
and begrimed ; but to Him who searcheth 
the heart there must have been something 
heavenly in that song, that wafted its 
message of faith from the very midst of 
death-dealing explosives. 

Then came the prayer. I noticed that 
most of the men stood during it, betokening 

77 



A Sad March Past 



the land from which they came. They 
were from Lewis. It seemed to me that as 
the pastor led those men near to God in 
their mother tongue a hush crept over 
the ship. Certainly the hoarse shouting 
and coarse words appeared to lessen. Some- 
how men felt that God was being wor- 
shipped there. The minister told me the 
text of his address afterwards. It dealt 
with the sheepfold and the Gate. I saw its 
impression in the glistening of more than 
one eye and the moistening of more than 
one cheek. 

The captain and chief officer showed us 
every kindness. Perhaps the secret of it 
was in the way the commander spoke of his 
men. 

" They are a splendid set of good living 
fellows/' he said, and maybe that was why 
even at a busy moment he was willing to 
let them have that short time of spiritual 
strengthening. 

On reaching home that evening another 
surprise awaited us. Our own boys, as we 
call the Greenock lads of the Argyll and 

78 



A Sad March Past 



Sutherland Highlanders, had arrived on a 
transport on their way to the Dardanelles. 
Some of the officers dined with us that night 
at our hotel, and next morning Mr. Camp- 
bell and I set out to visit the men. 

There was a large number from our own 
congregations, as well as from the other 
churches in Greenock. What hearty hand- 
shaking we had as we recognised the 
familiar faces under the unfamiliar helmets. 
Friends at home had not sent us away with 
an empty purse, and we thought that this 
was an occasion for emptying it a little. 
So we invested in chocolate and cigarettes 
until the errand boy who took our parcels 
to the boat could not comfortably carry 
any more. Greenock was reaching out her 
hands through us in farewell to her brave 
sons. 

We held a service for the men in their 
mess-room, and I gave a short address, and 
were it not for the unfamiliar surroundings 
I might have thought myself at home as I 
looked into the faces of my own members. 
It was difficult to tear ourselves away, and 

79 



A Sad March Past 



our hearts went with the brave lads whom 
we would fain have accompanied if chap- 
lain's committees would only take into 
account personal ties. 

We could not wait to see them sail, as 
duties summoned us to a hospital eight 
miles distant, but Mrs. Mackinnon kept 
vigil by the harbour, and waved them an 
adieu from the " old friends at home " as 
later in the afternoon they steamed out to 
the unknown. 

The work here was the zest of ready re- 
sults. Just before I came there was a week 
of interesting meetings, in which Mr. Camp- 
bell and Mr. Sim took a leading part, 
assisted by some of the Anglican chaplains. 
At the week-night services in one of the 
hospitals there were almost a hundred men 
present, and fifty-one professed a change of 
life. Facing death has brought eternal 
realities near, and never have I seen men 
more eager for the preaching of the Gospel 
or the reception of Christian literature. 
Many are here to-day and within the week 
may be dead on the field of battle. 

80 



A Sad March Past 



THE FAREWELL 

It has its bright and its sad side. One 
day on going into a ward you meet a 
specially cheery face. 

" I am going home to-morrow, sir," says 
the lad, who cannot hide his j oy . " There is 
a hospital ship in, and I am to be sent with 
it." 

He is the envied of all. " Going home." 
How sweetly the words sound ! They have 
a sad echo, however. There is another 
" going home," when for the last time the 
brave soldier follows the drum, only now it 
is muffled. This at first is one of the 
hardest duties of a chaplain, and I will 
confess my eyes dimmed with tears as I 
committed my first coffin to a soldier's 
grave. It was that of a young officer, 
Lieutenant Leggat of the 7th Scottish 
Rifles. The hour was sunset, and I stood 
robed at the cemetery gate. 

Nearer and nearer came the sound of 
muffled drums. Five coffins were borne in 
that last march to the " long home." 
F 81 



A Sad March Past 



There were two officers and three privates. 
The former had each a separate grave. 

Slowly, reverently were the bodies lifted 
from the gun carriages. In this land of 
ceremony even the Presbyterian burial adds 
a little to its stern simplicity, and I walked 
before the coffin reading passages of Scrip- 
ture, until we reached the grave. Two 
brother officers and one private stood beside 
me as the mourners. Then, when all w r as 
over, the firing party awakened the evening 
stillness with their solemn shots. Silence 
followed for a moment, then on a silver 
trumpet rang out the notes of "The Last 
Post/' and to the fancy they seemed to 
blend with the blast of the angel trumpet 
which will awake the sleeper from the tomb. 

At the close I thought I was alone, for I 
stood looking into the grave trying to do 
for the unknown sorrowing hearts at home 
the sad service they were denied. Sud- 
denly my reverie was interrupted ; the 
private had spoken. He too was left alone 
beside me, and his voice shook with 
emotion. 

82 



A Sad March Past 



" He was my officer," was all he could say. 

Yet what a testimony to the British 
Army, what an assurance of victory in these 
words. 

Perhaps I can best close this chapter by 
quoting the lines written by one of our 
chaplains here, the Rev. William Cowan 
of Banchory, which he entitles : 

A MILITARY FUNERAL 

With sound of plaintive brass, and deep-toned drum, 
And Britain's banner for a funeral pall, 
And measured tread of men whose footsteps fall 

In time with that sad minstrelsy, they come 

And carry to its narrow earthly home 
The coffin' d clay of one they late did call 
Comrade or friend, nor deemed of him that all 

Could lie beneath that empty helmet's dome. 

Beside the grave with arms reversed they stand, 
While prayers are offered, motionless until, 

Obedient to the word of sharp command, 
They wake the echoes from the distant hill 

With well-timed volleys ; then the bugle band 
Sounds forth its call to rest, and all is still. 



CHAPTER IV 



THE LAND OF THE OPEN HAND 

TO whom this title refers I will leave 
you for a little to guess. The 
Australian and New Zealand 
wounded I am sure think it suitable, and 
they are shrewd fellows ; and I know it 
is the name which unconsciously the coun- 
try suggested is earning out here. 

Now, if you have an hour to spare this 
afternoon, you could not do better than 
spend it with me at our Soldiers' Club, or 
shall I more truly call it our " Greenock Tea 
Room/' in Valletta, and thus give half of 
my secret away. 

Before we turn into Strada Forni we hear 
the sound of a soldiers' chorus borne up the 
street, and we know things are in full 
swing, and we can guess which chaplain has 

84 



The Land of the Open Hand 

dropped in to give " go " to the afternoon's 
entertainment. 

With such an advertisement flung far and 
wide, and the sniff of delicious tea on a 
nearer approach, no wonder we encounter a 
queue at the doors. I have brought you at 
three o'clock, the busiest hour, and we need 
to push our way through the men that 
crowd the short flight of stairs and little 
lobby, waiting for vacant seats inside. 

On entering we see that our guess as to 
the chaplain was correct. There are really 
two present. Near the piano stands Rev. 
Robert Menzies, and his Camphill congrega- 
tion should see him now, for he is at his 
best. With pipe in one hand, with which 
he beats time, he is singing with great 
feeling and expression a favourite song of 
the soldiers. Almost unconsciously he has 
broken into it, as is his way, and the men 
have picked up the chorus, and Rev. C. 
McEchern, of Tighnabruaich, one of our 
other chaplains, with his usual alertness, 
has seated himself at the piano and picked 
up the air on its keys, and the whole 

85 



The Land of the Open Hand 

thing is going with a mighty swing as we 
enter. 

The men are mostly in blue coats, the 
class we want. They have not actually 
reached the convalescent stage yet, and 
have to be back to their hospitals by six 
o'clock. Their pay is two shillings a week, 
so I do not think our Greenock friends will 
grudge their gift of a cup of tea to those 
who have suffered, even to the sacrifice of 
limbs, for their sake, and who have not the 
money in hand to pay for such a luxury. 
Some day the authorities will acknowledge 
that Greenock, as well as the doctors and 
nurses, has done its part in helping to cure 
our wounded. Already the men have made 
this acknowledgment in multitudes. Your 
ears would tingle if you heard how they 
attributed their quicker recovery to the 
marvellous effects of the Greenock teas. 

Let us peep into the kitchen for a mo- 
ment. It is a busy scene, and there is no 
space for idle spectators. In fact, it is like 
a kitchen on one of our Pullman cars, where 
every inch of space has had to be made 

86 



The Land of the Open Hand 

use of. Here there have been great altera- 
tions, everything that is not of immediate 
use has been cleared out. Shelves have been 
erected. These are piled with plates of 
bread that are eloquent of the forenoon toil 
of the ladies. Fifty loaves have been cut 
into slices and spread with butter and jam. 
We can afford no other luxury than this 
now, the days of cakes and buns are gone. 
Then there were about sixty or seventy to 
provide for, now there are between four 
hundred and five hundred daily. 

Yet the cruse of oil fails not. Yesterday 
I got copies of The Christchurch Press, New 
Zealand, and The Auckland Herald, in 
which my articles had appeared, and with 
them a cheque for twenty pounds to swell 
the funds. Glasgow, through the energy 
of Mr. Menzies, is responding, and Scotland 
is winning a name for openness of heart 
and generosity, which will be carried by 
these thousands of Colonials back to their 
homelands ; and in the days to come when 
they refight their battles over again, and 
tell of their wounds, I know they will not 
87 



The Land of the Open Hand 

forget to mention Greenock in grateful 
tones, and they will always think of Scot- 
land as the land of the open hand. I have 
chosen that phrase as a title, for it worthily 
fits the town and country that have so 
generously spread the tables in this little 
island for worn warriors. In no other 
place in Malta is a free tea given to our 
soldiers daily, and people are wondering 
when it is going to stop. But it is not 
going to stop. Just now the expense, even 
for simple bread and butter and jam, with 
tea, approximates 2 a day. 

Now, we are not wanted in the kitchen, so 
we had better move out. The ladies are 
too busy to talk. We catch a glimpse of 
the gas stoves with their kettles singing 
merrily, and turn back into the hall. Here 
there has also been a great transformation. 
We have refurnished it. A dozen little 
square tables with five or six chairs round 
each have taken the place of the cumber- 
some forms and trestle tables. At the end 
of the room a large table covered with 
green baize has been reserved for special 

88 



The Land of the Open Hand 

papers and magazines, and another for 
writing. 

THE OPENING OF THE HALL 

While we glance round this busy scene 
let me tell you something about its start. 

To understand hospital life in this 
sirocco-swept island one has to experience 
the humid grip of the hot air as it en- 
wraps you like some invisible octopus, 
wrings every particle of vitality out of the 
body, and leaves you as limp as a sucked 
orange. 

The men who have got the length of sit- 
ting on their beds or limping along the 
wards have nothing else to think of but the 
heat, and it is far from an invigorating 
subject. Therefore Mr. Campbell and I 
felt that we would be true trustees of the 
money entrusted to our charge if we got up 
a home for our brave lads. 

I need not speak of initial difficulties. 
This is a land of inertia, and the only cold 
water that is to be found here is that which 
is thrown on new schemes. Authorities are 

89 



The Land of the Open Hand 

conservative. However, difficulties are to 
my colleague as a red rag to a bull. 

The day before the opening Mrs. Mac- 
kinnon met a group of wounded men out- 
side the door of the hall. They had just 
come to see the place where the home was 
to be. Poor fellows ! If only the friends 
at home could realise what this meant, they 
also would share in the pleasure they have 
been the means of giving to others. 

Long before the hour streams of blue- 
jacketed men, some with arms in a sling, 
others on crutches, could be seenmakingtheir 
way to the hall, which had been cleaned and 
garnished, and smiled its welcome with the 
perfume and freshness of newly-cut flowers. 

One man, who on the previous Sunday had 
hobbled a mile with only one boot on to 
attend Divine service, repeated the journey, 
and his happy face almost brought tears of 
joy to our eyes. Would any Greenock 
church-goer have the courage and deter- 
mination to go a mile to church in his 
stocking-soles, if because of a wound he 
could not get his boot on ? 

90 



The Land of the Open Hand 

Every man who was invited, and who 
could come, was there. The little hall was 
full. It was Mrs. Mackinnon's province 
to look after the tea, and the white clothed 
tables were soon laden with tempting 
eatables, and the cup that cheers was never 
more relished. 

" My ! I wish we could take these 
ladies out to the Dardanelles to make us tea 
like that ! " I overheard one soldier say 
to his friend as he laid down his cup. 

There was reason to be proud, for the men 
manifested their relish of the treat in no 
doubtful fashion. On the platform, gracing 
the occasion, were also the two chief 
medical men in Malta, Colonel Sleman, 
principal medical officer, under whose 
charge are all the numerous hospitals, and 
Colonel Ballance, the famous brain specialist. 
The latter spoke with such effect that I 
feel I cannot do better than give you some 
of his sentences. 

" Britain," he said, " is face to face with 
a foe who for many years has planned her 
destruction. It is necessary, therefore, that 

91 



The Land of the Open Hand 

every individual should keep as fit physic- 
ally and spiritually as possible. Sacrifice is 
the rule of all that is best in life. A titanic 
struggle such as Germany is waging at the 
present is only possible when the entire 
nation, heart and soul, is at the back of its 
leaders. This can only be brought about 
when they are dominated by one idea. 
Their philosophy, summed up in a word, is 
this : Strength is extolled as the only 
virtue ; weakness is proclaimed to be a 
vice and deadly sin. The weak are de- 
clared to have no claim to protection. The 
dogmas of religion and morality are taught 
as having no binding force on the individual. 
Humanitarian ideals are laughed at as only 
a contemptible expression. The German is 
educated to believe that no laws or promises 
can bind the State, only its own will. In 
this war, therefore, there is a clash of two 
systems of thought. We are fighting not 
for material objects but for a spiritual ideal. 
When a quarrel is for money or for a strip 
of territory peace can be concluded without 
moral loss. To make peace when an ideal 

92 



The Land of the Open Hand 

is at stake is to be false to the voices which 
tell us that man is born for other things 
than to enjoy the moral and material 
heritage of his fathers. This is why Britain 
cannot give up fighting, however great her 
losses, till victory is secured, for to do so 
would be treason to all mankind. 

" There are three reasons which chiefly in- 
fluence the conduct of a man in this world 
personal interest, social duty, religious duty. 
For my part, I shall hold that the last is the 
only all-powerful influence. The fact of 
Christ is the great satisfying and purifying 
force in the world, both for the individual 
and the nation. To belong to the British 
Navy or Army to-day is to bear a part in 
the greatest struggle for right or truth that 
has ever been fought on this blood-stained 
earth. In this noble contest it is required 
of you to be pure in body as well as brave 
in spirit. If it is your lot never to return, 
you will leave an immortal work behind 
you in the liberation of mankind from a 
foul and grasping tyranny ; you will have 
become one of the makers of a future 

93 



The Land of the Open Hand 

rescued from the menace of vile ambitions 
and merciless cruelty. And if it is given 
to you to pass into the happier day and 
share the peace won by the true heart and 
unfaltering arm of your country, you will 
find such a satisfaction in the name of 
Briton as no man living has ever known/* 

Colonel Sleman, in a few words, spoke of 
the value of the work being done by all who 
at this time came out to assist the troops. 
It made little difference whether they were 
in Lemnos or Malta ; what mattered was 
that they were giving their help. 

The hero of the stocking foot, Lance- 
Corporal Taylor, Christchurch, New Zea- 
land, moved a vote of thanks to the ladies. 

Another cup of tea followed before the 
men parted. Teapots need to have no 
bottoms here, or at least the bottom must 
never be reached, for there is always a great 
thirst, and tea has come into its own as the 
most quenching drink. 

But let us have a talk with some of the 
men, and get their stories at first hand. 



94 



The Land of the Open Hand 



BURIED ALIVE 

Here is one with all the skin on his face 
peeled off, and he is just out for the first day 
with his new face, which is extremely raw to 
look at. Very simply he tells us one of the 
most astounding tales ever narrated. 

" It was like this," he said. " Some of 
us were talking in a trench, not thinking 
of any danger, when suddenly the Turks 
began to fire, and we heard the hurtling of 
a shell. The rest of the fellows at once 
made for a dug-out. I was last, and, of 
course, could not go faster than the man 
in front. With a bang the thing plopped 
right in beside us. I threw myself on my 
face, and in an instant there was a most 
terrific roar, and I felt tons of earth tum- 
bling on top of me. I lost consciousness. 
After a while I recovered my senses. At 
first I could not think where I was. My 
surroundings seemed so strange, and I 
could not move. Then memory came back, 
and I recalled the shell bursting, and 
realised that I was buried alive. I gave 

95 



The Land of the Open Hand 

myself up for lost. And I can tell you, 
Padre, I did some harder thinking in these 
moments than I ever did in my life before." 

There is an earnestness in his voice as 
he says this, whose spiritual note our ears 
have become trained to detect. These men 
have struck the deeper foundations of life 
in those moments when the surface debris 
has been cleared aside by the grim reality 
of death. 

" Then/' he continues, " I thought an- 
other shell had burst on top of me. The 
earth began to choke me. How I managed 
to breathe so far was owing to the soil being 
lumped and air getting through. Now the 
crevices got choked. Then my ear detected 
a sound that gave me hope. My chums 
had set themselves to dig me out, and it 
was the loose earth from their spades that 
was smothering me, and their knocks that 
sounded like other shells bursting. I can 
tell you I was glad when I got the first real 
mouthful of air. I left most of the skin of 
my face behind me, but I was glad to get 
off in the end so cheaply. I am feeling all 

96 




The Land of the Open Hand 

right now, and expect to be marked down 
for the convalescent camp in a few days." 

TURKISH HUMOUR 

" The Turks gave us a laugh one day/' 
another man says as we sit down for a talk 
with him. " Our trenches were very close, 
and there was a good deal of bombing going 
on. At our particular part, however, things 
were very quiet, and some of us were hav- 
ing a smoke, when suddenly flop into our 
trench came something that made us jump. 
I tell you we were not long in clearing out 
from the spot. Most of us dived into dug- 
outs to await the explosion, but it did not 
come off. We waited for a while, and still 
the thing didn't burst. Then we came out 
and had a look at it, and found that it was 
an old tin can, just thrown over to give us 
a fright. We can see the joke of it now, 
though we did not at the time." 

Thus we chat on, and between the sups 

of tea we catch glimpses of the battlefield. 

Amidst the hum of conversation battles are 

fought over again and notes compared. 

G 97 



The Land of the Open Hand 

Here there are strange meetings, for the club 
is proving a valuable centre for all the men. 

OUR HUNGRY BOYS 

Now, just let us stand up and take a 
general look round. There is one thing 
that gives us pleasure, and that is the way 
the lads go for the bread and butter. I 
would almost add that there is a touch of 
pathos about it, for the boys are dread- 
fully hungry. Remember that many of 
them are just recovered from fevers or other 
illness, during which they were partially 
starved for medical reasons, and now they 
have a ravenous appetite. Many of them 
are boys after all, and just as between meals 
they might go to their mother for " a piece/' 
so they come into this home, where the 
ladies are doing their best to mother them. 
Every mother who has a son of her own will 
know what this means, and I do not think 
she would have it in her heart to deny them 
their request. Perhaps the mothers at 
home will help us to hand these " pieces " 
to the hungry boys out here. 

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The Land of the Open Hand 

Yesterday one of the chief medical men 
of the island, who is in command of a big 
hospital here, said he very heartily ap- 
proved of our work. There were societies, 
he remarked, getting large sums of money 
at present from the public for purposes 
that could almost be dispensed with. For 
himself, he would only give to those who 
were in direct contact with the men, and 
especially to those who were trying to build 
them up physically. Such teas were a valu- 
able help to the work of the hospitals. 

To-day one Aberdonian said rather rue- 
fully to Mrs. Mackinnon : " The doctor says 
I maun be fed up, but I ha vena seen the 
beginnin' o' it yet/' 

" Are you not feeling strong ? " she asked. 

" Na ; I'm nearly as weak as the tea in 
the hospitals." 

So the chaff goes on, and the men spea k 
their mind, and feel at home. 

HOME NEWS 

But one of the chief attractions of the 
hall is home news. At one end we have 

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The Land of the Open Hand 

had a large paper rack erected, containing 
about thirty fairly large pigeon holes. Into 
these the newspapers are sorted. Through 
the assistance of the Greenock Telegraph 
a letter asking for periodicals appeared in 
about sixty publications in Great Britain, 
and there has been an immediate and gener- 
ous response. The Welshman or Irishman 
has only to go to his particular pigeon hole, 
and there he will doubtless find his local 
paper, and for the next half-hour, as he 
settles himself in his chair, he is oblivious 
of his surroundings. In one pigeon-hole 
are Greenock Telegraphs, in another Glasgow 
Heralds. On the row below may be found 
the Sydney Morning Herald, or the Mel- 
bourne Argus. I have not yet counted the 
variety of publications, but I should think 
that there would be over a hundred differ- 
ent kinds. The Rothesay man can find his 
Buteman, the Lovat Scout from Tobermory 
his Oban Times. Paisley is about the only 
town in Scotland unrepresented. 

Mrs. Mackinnon has been ably assisted 
in this work by Miss Daisy Jenkin from the 

100 



The Land of the Open Hand 

start, and several other ladies, who have plied 
the bread knife with unceasing vigour. 

NATIONAL TYPES 

The room affords a splendid opportunity 
for making a study of national character and 
temperament. Here, perhaps, as nowhere 
else in Malta, or indeed in the whole sphere of 
war, do the varied allies rub shoulders. We 
canonlyglance at thesedistinctions just now. 
They would make an article in themselves. 

Very prominent is the Australian. He is 
a big fellow, and has a free and easy man- 
ner and masterful stride. There is some- 
thing invitingly frank and breezy about 
him, and there is little self-consciousness. 

" I say, Padre, " said one of them yester- 
day, in a voice that the whole room might 
hear if it liked, " I want your opinion on 
the immortality of the soul/' 

The question was very characteristic. 
These men speak quite freely of the deeper 
truths of religion in a way that astonishes the 
Scot. Of course, they are also perfectly frank 
about subjects of the very opposite kind. 

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The Land of the Open Hand 

The New Zealander is ablendingof theScot 
and Australian. He is quieter in his talk and 
his Colonial accent is not quiteso pronounced. 

There are Indians here, too, our dusky 
allies. How they found out our room I do 
not know, but they got a kindly welcome 
and a cup of tea, and they showed their 
white teeth in a smile of appreciation. Tall, 
dignified, quiet men, who insist before leav- 
ing on going to the kitchen door and salaam- 
ing most graciously to the ladies. French- 
men, too, have found their way here, and 
they seemed delighted when one of the ladies 
carried on a brisk conversation with them. 

There is the Lovat Scout, with the stride 
of the gamekeeper ; the strapping Scottish 
Horse man, the Englishman of varied 
county and accent, the Welshman and Irish, 
the Newfoundlander, the thoughtful Edin- 
burgh boy, and the innocent looking laddie 
of the West. Here they all are in a small 
hall, finding speech more easy because of 
the tea, and joining in the same swelling 
chorus that proclaims the unity and spirit 
of the British Empire. 

102 



CHAPTER V 




MALTA RAINBOWS 

LAME the sirocco/' 

It is our scapegoat in Malta. 
If a man has a pain in his head 
or his leg, or if he loses his temper, it is be- 
cause of this ill-favoured wind, that blows 
from the south to the south-east and carries 
an unwelcome whiff of the African deserts 
with it. 

Weeks have gone past and I have not 
sent you a letter. Well, it is our old enemy 
the sirocco that is to blame. Not that 
personally I have suffered much from this 
moist and sticky hot breath. The latest 
victim has been my typewriter, and minus 
it I am like a steamship without its pro- 
peller. 

It was a sirocco day, and I was typing 
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rather vigorously, when my old friend sud- 
denly gave out. For sixteen years it has 
been my faithful and obedient servant, and 
travelled far on my knee, and clicked to the 
music of American trains. Neither the 
heights of the Rockies nor the hustle of 
Seattle ever affected its serenity ; but there, 
of course, there is no sirocco. 

I was in the middle of a sentence when it 
failed me. I enquired diligently for a 
mender of Hammond typewriters. At last 
I discovered a man whose highest creden- 
tials were that he repaired gramophones. 
Is it not a characteristic of the age that the 
latter is more in evidence than the former ? 
After a patient investigation he pronounced 
that the mainspring was broken, and de- 
pressed me by stating that another could 
not be got in Malta. Why do I narrate 
this ? Because there is a study of Maltese 
character in it ; and, as you will see, the 
impression this workman left was in the 
end not unfavourable. He took my 
machine to hospital, and, of course, during 
that time my brain was very fertile with 

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Malta Rainbows 



ideas, the article I could have written you 
then would really have interested, the 
thoughts were on the very tips of my fingers, 
but, alas ! there were no keyboards at hand, 
and so all those bright imaginations were lost. 

At last the typewriter returned, but only 
in a convalescent state. The mechanic 
could get it to work but only if one end 
was elevated at an angle of forty-five degrees. 
He was triumphant. I was not so enthu- 
siastic. But as I wished to catch up on 
those fleeting ideas, and could wait no 
longer, I propped one side of my convales- 
cent machine up with books and started. 

Like most people I have had my share 
of provocations in life I play golf a little 
but never has my temper been tested so 
sorely. Cruel are the wounds of a friend. 
I had just got hold of the tail end of an idea, 
and was imprisoning it in a sentence, when 
the carriage of the Hammond stopped, and 
I had to give it a push with my thumb. 
This diverted my thoughts, and by that 
time the idea had escaped to fairyland. 
This happened frequently, and always at 
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Malta Rainbows 



a critical moment. My ideas just teased 
me, they laughed at me from a safe distance, 
and with a convalescent typewriter I was 
powerless to catch them. So I sent it back 
to hospital again, and the Maltese mechanic 
who had already shown one characteristic 
of his race, now revealed the counter- 
balancing virtue of deft and painstaking 
manipulation. He took the machine to 
pieces. He joined the parts of the broken 
mainspring ; how I do not know, and he 
has returned it to me in as perfect working 
condition as the day sixteen years ago when 
it first stepped brand new from the counter 
into my desk. 

And now for my subject. Three large 
Army books lie before me filled with the 
names of patients to whom it has been my 
privilege to minister. Some of them are 
home again, others are back at the front ; 
many have gone where there is no more 
sorrow or sighing. They are all more than 
names. They have become memories, and 
as the light of memory plays upon them I 
see there a rainbow radiant with its Chris- 

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Malta Rainbows 



tian virtues, and I would like you to catch 
a glimpse of it also as it spans with its mes- 
sage of hope the dark cloud of suffering. 

PATIENCE 

How many names rank themselves under 
this heading ! I could play on your heart- 
strings by telling you of scores who preached 
its silent sermon ; and if I should ever get 
impatient again I have only to think of 
them and feel ashamed. 

One face I recall that used to light up 
with its smile of welcome. It was that of 
a man whose legs, whose arms, whose neck, 
were paralysed, so that the only part of 
him he could move was his eyes. It is 
his smile that haunts me to-night. On such 
a background it almost seemed out of place, 
but that was the fascination of it. He never 
complained. He liked you to come and 
talk with him. To sit down at his bedside 
as if you really meant a chat. He an- 
swered with those wonderful eyes of his. 
I have seen humour play in their depths, 
but never did I notice the darkening of im- 
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Malta Rainbows 



patience. One day I went to his ward as 
usual, and found him away. He was gone, 
and yet not gone. He had been marked 
down for England for some time. 

" Left yesterday in a hospital ship/' was 
what his neighbour told me. Yet somehow 
he still seemed to be in the ward. He had 
left behind him the subtle charm of his 
wonderful patience. That was months ago, 
and now a new generation are in these 
beds who know not " Joseph." Still I fancy 
he is there, for something about the ward 
distinguishes it from others. There is the 
aroma of a gracious sufferer. I cannot ex- 
plain it, but somehow all its patients seem 
more gentle, more submissive. 

Those who knew him spoke often about 
his patience. One by one they left, but the 
tradition remained of the man in bed No. 3. 
It would be a happy thing to think that 
here we had a parable of life, and that one 
day, when the place that knows us shall 
know us no more, there will be left behind 
something that will cling to that spot, 
something that will unconsciously influence 

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others, something more than a memory 
an aroma, if you like to call it so. 

COURAGE 

Here again I can have my pick of pages. 
What stories of battles I have heard at 
first hand ! Let me take you to the bedside 
of a sergeant of the Ayrshire Yeomanry, and 
listen to an account of one of the pluckiest 
deeds ever wrought, which is not without its 
touch of humour. 

It was during what must have been one 
of our very last attacks at Cape Helles. 
Some of the enemy's saps were being taken. 
In one of them the Turks turned to the left 
and rushed for a barricade their friends had 
reared. The British gave chase, but it was 
necessary to investigate the turning to the 
right, down which a few Turks were seen 
to run, in case it connected with a Turkish 
trench. It really did, but a shell at that 
moment burst and blew it in, blocking the 
passage. The sergeant started to explore. 
A few minutes later a shell knocked in the 
sap behind him, so that he could not re- 
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Malta Rainbows 



turn. On rounding a barricade of sand- 
bags what was his amazement to find about 
thirty Turks grouped in the sap, which had 
been made a cul-de-sac by the bursting shell. 
He had not a moment in which to make up 
his mind. He knew that he could not go 
back, and to go forward meant thirty to one. 
However, he kept his presence of mind, and 
lowering his rifle to impress them with the 
fact that he felt too confident of his supe- 
riority even to threaten them, he called 
upon them to surrender. They imagined 
that he was the leader of a large party of 
British troops, and, realising that they were 
in a tight corner, they dropped their 
weapons and raised their hands. Thus he 
held them while the battle raged at the 
other end of the sap and until a way was 
cleared behind him. Then he motioned 
to them to come forward one by one, and 
as each Turk passed him his enemy patted 
him on the back in gratitude for having 
spared their lives ! 

A tale like that tells of nerve, and it was 
very simply narrated to me by the ser- 

IIO 



Malta Rainbows 



geant, who, I am sure, would blush to see 
it repeated in print. 

CHEERFULNESS 

I might choose at random any of the 
several thousand names before me, and use 
it as an illustration of this virtue. What 
is the secret of this almost unquenchable 
cheerfulness in our British soldier ? I have 
seen it asserted under very strange circum- 
stances. The other day one poor fellow 
came into our club. He had both his 
hands shot away, and was unable to feed 
himself. Yet he sat down at a table, and 
seemed greatly to relish the cup of tea held 
to his lips by a comrade's hands. He 
talked and laughed with the others, and 
appeared thoroughly to enjoy himself, and 
to one of the ladies whose tone questioned 
more than her words he replied : " What is 
the use of being down-hearted ? " This 
spirit, I believe, if its origin be sought for, 
will be found to have its roots in the Chris- 
tian faith of our country, whose fruits are 
sacrifice and hope. 

in 



Malta Rainbows 



But one soldier stands out from the 
others as the cheeriest man I ever met. 
He was a big, handsome New Zealander, 
named Fraser, and when he first came in he 
was in a most critical condition. He had 
eighteen wounds in his body. 

" Oh, I am getting on all right/' was his 
first greeting to me. 

From the start I noticed that his mind 
always dwelt on the most favourable 
symptoms of his wounds, and 1 believe that 
this helped to save his life. 

If his shoulder were healing he spoke 
about that, and said nothing about his 
knee, which was suppurating. I called 
him the cheeriest patient in Valletta Hos- 
pital. When I told him about our tea- 
room for the wounded he insisted on giving 
some money to drive up some of the other 
men in the ward who were strong enough 
to go though unable to walk, and from that 
time onward, while battling with pain, he 
was always anxious to talk about it, and 
plan for others enjoying its benefits. For 
months he lay there, emitting, like radium, 

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Malta Rainbows 



rays of cheer that brightened the whole 
ward. He was taken from his bed to the 
New Zealand hospital ship, and our last 
glimpse of him was a smile. That was one 
of Malta's rainbows, which I shall never 
forget. 

I have seen its light in strange places. 
One was in the eyes of a grizzled Irishman 
in St. Elmo Hospital. 

" How are you getting on ? " I asked. 

" Och ! It's my eye that's bothering 
me. I got a chill in it last night," he 
answered. And yet just two days before 
he had had his leg amputated ! 

FAITH 

It is with hesitating hand that I venture 
to draw for you a sketch of a face that 
looks out of my mental album at the very 
mention of faith. He was on the dangerous 
list when I first saw him, and had just 
arrived. There was a terrible wound in 
his head ; yet he could speak. At first my 
heart grew sad as I listened to his story. 
H 113 



Malta Rainbows 



He had neither father nor mother, nor 
apparently any relative. His only friend 
was his landlady in Scotland. He gave me 
her name, and told me how good she had 
been to him, and how sorry he felt that the 
war had cost her her lodger. Poor lad ! 

Then a word of mine brought a gleam of 
brightness into those eyes shadowed for the 
moment by the thought of his only friend. 
I had spoken of the Future. Already he 
was in the Valley of the Shadow, and in a 
few hours was to pass out at its other end. 
But if ever there was a reflector of heavenly 
light, a proof of the Eternal Day beyond 
the shades, it was that bandaged face which 
was catching the beauty of the sunrise. A 
moment before I had thought him lonely, 
but unconsciously he let me see the shadows 
of an innumerable company of angels. It 
is not merely at Mons that these may be 
observed. In the hospitals of Malta a 
strange brightness passes like a sunbeam 
across a dying face. Is it not the shadow 
of an angel, or of One whom the angels 
worship ? 

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Malta Rainbows 



ENDURANCE 

One bed I must take you to, where it 
seems to me all the virtues I have already 
spoken of have a noble illustration with 
this one added, namely, endurance. It is 
six months now since Hamilton was ad- 
mitted to St. Elmo Hospital, In that 
time he has endured seventeen operations. 
If you wish to know the price of war you 
learn it here. If you want to witness its 
triumph, here is one. At present he has a 
steel bar through his knee. But that is 
nothing to what there has been. Only the 
determination, such as our nation is now 
manifesting, to endure to the end could 
have pulled him through. Approach that 
bed as you would do a throne, for there the 
spirit of our race is being crowned, albeit with 
a circlet of thorns for the moment, yet with 
a regal dignity that denotes the conqueror. 

It is the chaplain who gets at first hand 
those tales which, like the garments of the 
wounded man, are smirched with the stains 
of blood and still smell of powder. The 



Malta Rainbows 



doctors and nurses are occupied with the 
care of the poor, shattered limbs, but it is 
the chaplain who comes with healing for 
mind and soul, and if he has the sympa- 
thetic art he will realise that part of that 
healing process consists in listening. 

The poor fellow who has just been carried 
from the stretcher into the bed, and who 
feels the comforting touch of clean sheets 
after he has wakened up from his first 
sleep, wants to tell somebody all that has 
happened. The exciting scenes through 
which he has passed have dazzled his mind, 
and just as one who has looked on the sun 
can see nothing else for a while, so the after 
impression of those awful sights cannot be 
removed until expressed in speech. After 
the story has once been told the mind is 
relieved, and it may be that the soldier 
will not care to speak of the subject again, 
for the memory is too painful. 

Thus the chaplain from the bedside sees 
the battle at many points. He sees what 
one soldier saw, and then what another 
witnessed, and the minor incidents which 

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make the battle, and which are known only 
to the individual, who was the principal 
actor in them, unfold themselves and repro- 
duce the lurid panorama. 

Let me give you some such incidents and 
in this grim struggle, where physical and 
spiritual realities become one, we will see 
the latter illustrated in the former. 

THE POWER OF PRAYER AND COMRADESHIP 

He told me the story simply as he lay 
wounded in nine places. It happened in 
an attack on the Turkish trenches. Just 
as the last one was being rushed three rifle 
bullets pierced his shoulder. He swayed 
and fell in front of his men, and at that 
moment a bomb exploded, the shrapnel 
hitting him in six other places and knocking 
him over into the communication trench. 
Then he swooned, and knew nothing of what 
was happening. Owing to a retirement at 
another part of the line the British force 
had to give up some of the trenches so 
dearly won, and the major was left for dead 
amongst a heap of the slain. When he 
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Malta Rainbows 



awoke it was hours afterwards. Day had 
long since broken, and there was a deathly 
stillness round him. He was entangled in 
a mass of dead men, and could not move. 
As he turned his head he suddenly saw two 
Turks peering cautiously round the end of 
the trench at him. As soon as their eyes 
met the Turks " made a bunk/' to use his 
own phrase, and then he swooned again. 
Once more he regained consciousness, and 
there were the same two Turks, a little 
nearer this time. He had no weapon 
within reach, even if he had possessed 
strength enough to use it ; but again he 
looked them straight in the face, and the 
men fled out of sight, though every now and 
then they would put their heads round the 
corner. Evidently they had a wholesome 
fear, even of a wounded Briton. Then 
matters became more serious. The Turks 
threw a hand bomb over the trench at him. 
It struck a dead soldier and exploded with- 
out hurting the major ; but he realised 
that to remain a moment longer where he 
was meant death. But how could he move ? 

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Malta Rainbows 



One thing only could he do, and that was 
to pray. He asked God for strength, and 
it was strangely given to him. He managed 
to get on his hands and feet and crawl a 
few yards, just in the nick of time, for the 
next bomb fell where he had been. Slowly 
and painfully he dragged himself along the 
continuation trench. Then he came on 
one of his own men lying helplessly wounded. 
" I am afraid I have no strength left to 
help you," said the major sympathetically, 
" but if I reach anywhere this way I'll send 
out assistance." The man had given him- 
self up for dead, but the voice of his officer 
rallied his spirit, and when the major 
looked round again he saw the private crawl- 
ing after him. Then they met a sand-bag 
barrier. They were too weak to climb over 
it, but together they got hold of one of the 
bags and toppled it down, and after a rest 
they did the same with another. Mean- 
while the Turks were cautiously stalking 
their prey. There was not a moment to 
lose. Praying for further strength, the 
major and private helped each other 
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Malta Rainbows 



through the gap they had made in the 
barrier, and rolled down into another 
trench. Fortunately they had fallen 
among friends. Some men of the Essex 
Regiment happened to be on the other 
side, and they were carried to safety. 

Such was the thrilling tale the wounded 
officer told me, and need I add that it is 
one more example of the power of prayer ? 

Ask, and ye shall receive. " Also, does it 
not illustrate the encouragement of com- 
radeship ? The private had lost hope as 
well as strength, and was gasping his life 
out, until the words and example of his 
major revived his spirit, and he made the 
effort that saved his life. Christ does not 
say merely " Take up thy cross/' Had He 
done so our hearts might have failed, but 
He adds, " Follow Me." He has gone 
before, and in that there is the stimulus 
that comes from comradeship. 

A REFLECTION OF THE CROSS 

Another lad had a strange story to tell, 
and the wounded men beside him were able 

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Malta Rainbows 



to corroborate his statement. A fierce 
battle was raging, and in face of overwhelm- 
ing numbers the British force was retiring 
to their trenches. Suddenly the lad heard 
the cry of a wounded man calling for water. 
He stopped and stooped over the prostrate 
form. Meanwhile bullets were whizzing 
on every side. Quickly he unslung his 
water bottle and held it to the other's 
parched lips. 

"Only drink half," he said; "I may yet 
need the other half myself." 

Then, taking pity on the wounded man, 
and knowing that it would likely mean 
death to be left out there exposed to the 
enemy's fire, he called a comrade and asked 
him to give him a hand in trying to carry 
the helpless soldier to shelter. Together 
they staggered under their load, the target 
now of many bullets. At last they reached 
the trench, and simply rolled their living 
burden over, then hastened to spring after 
him. At that instant a shell caught the 
rescuer on the shoulder, shattering the bone, 
and he fell beside the man he had helped. 
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Malta Rainbows 



His prophecy was true ; he needed the other 
half of the bottle. 

Days passed, during which the narrator 
of the story was carried down to the beach, 
put on board ship, and brought to Malta. 
He was taken to Cottonera Hospital, and it 
was there that I found him, and that the 
strange sequel of the story took place. 

One day a wounded soldier, who is now 
convalescent, entered the ward. Suddenly 
he stopped in surprise at the first bed on 
his left, and looked curiously at the pale 
face on the pillow. 

" Why, you are my rescuer ! " he ex- 
claimed with delight ; " the man who gave 
me that drink, which I will never forget, 
and which I can never repay/' 

They did not know each other's names, 
but that mattered little, blood had ce- 
mented a friendship stronger than death. 
The half-bottle of water and the heroic deed 
are already reaping their reward in life's 
richest gift of a loyal comradeship. Thus 
the Cross is casting its reflection on our 
blood-stained fields. 

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THE PRECIOUSNESS OF A PEBBLE 

Our ideas of values are getting strangely 
upset by this war. What we are apt to 
consider worthless things suddenly assume 
an importance which teaches us that 
nothing which can truly serve mankind is 
common or unclean in the Creator's eyes. 
What is there more paltry than a pebble ? 
We spurn it with our feet. Yet the story 
a soldier told me shows how a pebble may 
be above rubies to a wounded man. 

In a charge in which valour had over- 
leapt discretion a certain regiment had 
suddenly to halt and fall back. In an out- 
of-the-way hollow it left behind two 
wounded men. Both were injured in arms 
and legs, and with difficulty crawled toward 
each other for the comfort of companion- 
ship. When day broke and they raised 
their heads to look round, what was their 
dismay to find that they were lying within 
the Turkish lines. At any moment they 
might be discovered. Their only chance 
was to keep in the shelter of the hollow and 
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Malta Rainbows 



lie flat, without moving more than possible. 
They shared what remaining water they 
had, and then nerved themselves to face 
the burning thirst of the blistering day. 
One had picked up a smooth pebble, and 
this he put into his mouth and sucked, and 
it helped to cool his tongue. Then he 
handed it to his comrade, and, turn about, 
through all that terrible day the precious 
pebble was exchanged from the one to the 
other. It was all the refreshment they had. 
For another night of agony and day of 
despair that pebble was their one solace. 
At last another British charge brought them 
within reach of friends and they were 
rescued along with that precious pebble, 
which will be cherished with greater regard 
than even if it were a gem. The neglected 
stone has been given chief place. 

HOME, SWEET HOME 

I close, not with a trench story, but with 
one that saddened and touched me deeply. 
Yesterday, as usual, I was summoned to 
many death-beds, all fever cases. I stood 

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beside one man who could scarcely speak. 
Already his flesh had turned black, and the 
flies were claiming their victim. As I 
spoke to him he made a feeble motion with 
his hand towards his one treasure. It was 
tied up in his pocket handkerchief. I under- 
stood, and untied the knot, and took out 
the contents. They consisted of a crushed 
picture postcard and his Testament. It 
was the card he wished to look at again. 
It was an ordinary print, depicting a mother 
and children seated beside the hearth, and 
above them in a cloud the visionary scene of 
their thoughts, a body of soldiers marching 
to war. Below was printed the inscription, 
" It is not like home when Daddy is away." 
The soldier nodded when I asked if he 
were a married man. He had a wife and 
four children. Their wait for him will, I 
fear, be a long one, unless the fervent 
prayer for the sick brings an answer which, 
to human minds, would seem miraculous. 
Such are the sacrifices that are being made 
wife, children, home, life for the sake of 
Empire and God. 

125 



CHAPTER VI 



IN LIGHTER VEIN 

TO all boys and girls who believe in 
the power of fairies to grant "a 
wish that is wished " I would 
utter a solemn warning. In the foolish 
days of my first arrival in Malta I wished 
a wish, and some malevolent fairy has seen 
to it that it has been answered. Like the 
mosquitoes, the post seeks to make new- 
comers its victims. It has a trick of tor- 
menting the homesick stranger by allowing 
him no letters for what seems like weeks. 
Thus it extorted from me a wish. I wrote 
to a friend saying that I wanted letters, 
and I think at that the fairy must have 
laughed, for it hurried away with its wish, 
and for the last three weeks it has never 
ceased with evil delight to grant that foolish 

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request. Even in my dreams, if I have 
partaken of a Maltese supper, I am haunted 
by my orderly's voice saying, " The Post 
Office officials have sent to say that they 
have twenty sacks waiting for you ! " 

That fairy is not like the mean man 
described by a Highlander who, in referring 
to his method of treating, said, " He is this 
sort, when you say, Stop ! he stops. " My 
post bags are weekly increasing in num- 
ber, and show no signs of decrease. The 
D.A.A.G. asked me if I meant to run a 
G.P.O. as a show of my own. Yet what a 
pathetic sidelight on the war these heaped- 
up postbags are ! How expressive of the 
patriotism, the personal anxieties of thou- 
sands in Australia and New Zealand ! 
Malta, where their sons are lying fighting 
with death, is a sacred spot to them. Their 
hearts are here with their loved ones. 
Hence the mail bags. 

A CHAPLAIN'S MAIL 

Humour is not entirely absent even from 
these August days, and perhaps when I tell 
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you about my weekly mail you will smile, 
as did Major Lyle, of the Argyll and 
Sutherland Highlanders, who happened to 
be at my house when it arrived. 

The postman brought word that he was 
unable to bring all the correspondence that 
was awaiting me. The suspicion of a smile 
about his lips aroused my curiosity. I sent 
my orderly to the post office to get the 
letters, and he came back with nothing ex- 
cept the same smile. I thought then that 
it was time to go myself. I was escorted 
to the sorting-room and met there by 
smiling officials. Really that smile was 
growing infectious. Then I was con- 
ducted to my mail. It was contained in 
two huge sacks, four feet high. There were 
some lesser packages, but those sacks 
fascinated me. Two men could with diffi- 
culty lift one. In fact, it took three to 
carry it down to a cab. Where to empty 
out its contents was the next question when 
it had arrived at my house. No table 
could possibly hold it. The orderly hesi- 
tated about suggesting the floor, but there 

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was no other place ; and so my study was 
turned into a General Post Office. It was 
then Major Lyle arrived, and I took him 
to see the first consignment, and I am glad 
I had him for a witness, otherwise I would 
have refrained from arousing suspicion as 
to my veracity. The Major was sitting in 
the drawing-room when the second sack 
arrived. He heard its laborious ascent of 
the stairs, and I took him out to the landing 
to see it. I am sorry that I did not measure 
its length. I cannot remember ever seeing 
a sack so long or fat before. My orderly 
has the spirit of neatness, and he built a 
stack on my study floor that would have 
delighted the heart of any farmer. The 
only disadvantage is that it must be un- 
loaded from the top. I tried to count the 
contents of the bag and got to over two 
hundred and then stopped, considering it a 
waste of time. 

Now what, you will be asking, is the mean- 
ing of this large mail. It was addressed to 
the Presbyterian Chaplain, and nine-tenths 
and more came from Australia and New 
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Zealand. It is a visible expression of the 
loyalty of these Colonies, of how their hearts 
have followed their sons. The majority of 
the separate items were papers for wounded 
soldiers, addressed to the care of the chap- 
lain. There were letters besides, asking for 
information about men whose whereabouts 
were unknown or who were in Malta. 

Now, I do not wish any Scottish reader 
to be dissuaded from sending me the papers 
which are so much appreciated. We have 
need for them all and more. Nothing 
helps to brighten a wounded Scot so much 
as a paper from home, and I feel deeply 
grateful for those which are sent, and I can 
assure the senders that all are put to a 
most useful purpose. 

Whether this Australian mail is to be 
like the high tides, a monthly affair, I can- 
not yet say. I am hurriedly getting rid of 
the rakings of the stack in fear of a weekly 
return of the sacks. There is a constant 
dribble in of papers, but last week certainly 
touched high-water mark. I have a vague 
suspicion as to its cause. I did send a copy 

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of one of my Scotch articles to an Australian 
paper, perhaps that might have something 
to do with it. The real secret of course is 
sympathy with our wounded. 

Incidentally it led me into an altercation 
with the chief of the post office. Many of 
the senders had put nothing in the address 
to indicate that the papers were for 
wounded men, many were sent simply to 
myself. The majority were stamped, yet 
several of these were underpaid. Here 
was the Post Office's chance for sending 
in a little bill and threatening me with 
bankruptcy ! None of us like to pay excess 
postage on the receipt of our mail, and 
certainly not a Scot. So I objected, and 
correspondence led at last to a most cour- 
teous interview with the postmaster. My 
argument was for the spirit as opposed to 
the letter of the regulations. Technically 
he was right. I was not wounded. I 
replied that I was the representative of the 
wounded. He argued the needs of the 
post office earning an honest penny. The 
receipts had gone down and the expenses 



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doubled owing to these new regulations. 
I had as good an argument on those lines. 
One had only to compare the excess postage 
with the pay of a chaplain to realise that 
the post office had not struck a very lucra- 
tive mine ! It was a most pleasant inter- 
view, and had a pleasant ending for me. 
The red tape had snapped, and the letter 
had yielded to the spirit. There was a 
compromise but only of detail. I was to 
show my respect for red tape by signing on 
each delivery, " for the wounded." 

At this very moment, strange to say, an 
interruption has occurred. It is a coinci- 
dence that adds point to what I have just 
said. I have stopped clicking my type- 
writer, and the maid has given her message. 

" The postmaster has sent me to say that 
there are two sacks of correspondence 
waiting at the office for you, sir." 

So now I know that my mail is to be 
weekly, and that unless I am particularly 
active I shall soon have a perfect farmyard 
of paper stacks in my study. 

Months have passed since I wrote the 
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above, and so I am now able to add the 
sequel. What I have described has been 
but the neap tide. Every week has not 
failed to bring its twenty sacks. Once we 
had thirty-five, but that was high-water 
mark. 

How are they disposed of ? is, I have no 
doubt, the question in your mind. Somel 
take home, and hand over to the stack- 
building talents of my orderly ; others I 
had transferred to our Soldiers' Club. 
There were about sixty men in at the time, 
some reading, others writing, some playing 
games. 

Surmising what would happen, I got the 
bags quietly placed at intervals in the lobby. 
Then entering I announced that an Austra- 
lian and New Zealand mail had just come 
in, and that I had several bags with papers 
outside, and that those present could help 
themselves, and take what they liked back 
to their hospitals. You should have wit- 
nessed the scene that followed. Books, 
tables, ink and writing pads were left in a 
moment. I have seen flies settling on 



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syrup, but that is a feeble illustration ; I 
have seen a football scrimmage, which is 
nearer the mark. Round each bag there 
was a mass of bodies, inside were the heads 
and hands. These Australians appeared to 
know by the feel their own local paper, 
and one or another would emerge holding 
aloft in triumph what corresponds to his 
Greenock Telegraph. The best illustration 
of all is that of vultures descending on a 
carcase. In ten minutes the bags were 
picked bare, and lay in little collapsed 
heaps. A few papers were scattered round 
them. Scotch ones, which were discarded 
by the Australians, but which were very 
carefully collected by me and sorted out 
for our Scotch lads. 

As for the letters, I do not care to speak 
of them. I am afraid that fairy is sitting 
on a pile of unanswered ones and laughing 
at me. I have heard of sea captains experi- 
encing a strange sensation when they felt 
themselves mastered by the sea. My type- 
writer and I have been inseparable com- 
panions for years, we have crossed the 



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Rockies together and wandered into many 
strange places, but now we feel like the sea 
captain, mastered by our own element. 
Though the keys were to work at their 
hardest I am afraid that pile of un- 
answered letters would never grow less ; 
for no sooner with a sigh of relief do I begin 
to see the top of my table appearing 
through the heaps of envelopes, than it 
is hopelessly covered again ; while I 
have been out another post has come in. 
However, every one has their own diffi- 
culties in these days, and if my Achi Baba 
is visibly entrenching itself on my desk 
I have yet the will to win, and some day I 
shall master it. 

INTERESTING VISITORS 

I have a feeling that my last chapters 
were sad, that I lifted the veil too freely 
which hides the grim side of war ; so when 
I began this one I promised myself a holi- 
day. I determined to shut the door on the 
day's work and speak only of its pleasures. 

One of the greatest of these was the visit 
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we had from our M.P., Major Godfrey 
Collins. We were out when he first called, 
but he found his way to the Soldiers' Club, 
and spent half an hour with Mrs. Mackin- 
non. Next morning he called for me, and 
we had a delightful chat. He is on his way 
East, and has utilised his few days in Malta 
in visiting the wounded Greenock lads. 
With one he had an amusing conversation. 

" I remember you/' he said to him, " and 
have good reason to. The last time we 
met was at a political meeting, and you 
heckled me." 

The soldier laughed. How far away 
those days seem now. 

" Well, I hope/' added the Major, " that 
we may meet again as we did before, 
heckling and all/' 

"I'll let you off easier the next time, 
sir," was the rejoinder from the bed. 

Two nights ago I had the most interest- 
ing conversation of my life. It was with a 
naval officer who had been spending the 
last forty days in the Sea of Marmora, some- 
times resting on its bed. He is on a sub- 

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marine. But I must not tell you all he so 
frankly spoke of. What his submarine 
alone has done is beyond words. The won- 
derful things his captain discovered, and 
how they cheated the wily Turk who tried 
to net them will make one of the most 
exciting chapters in the history of this war. 
Lying at the bottom of the Sea of Mar- 
mora, shelling Turkish regiments from the 
sea and then diving before their guns could 
answer, sinking the enemy's troopships with 
thousands of men how many I had better 
not say breaking through the nets set to 
trap them all these adventures seemed 
hardly to have taken the edge off the boy- 
ishness of the young naval officer. Perhaps 
it was because he was still so youthful that 
these daring deeds had for him that ex- 
hilarating thrill missed by those of thinner 
blood. 

THE WEATHER 

Now how about the climate ? Is it 
kindly towards our wounded ? The late 
Prof. Henry Drummond stayed once for 



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a fortnight with Dr. Wisely in Malta in 
July, and he said tropical Africa was 
nothing to Malta. I am ready to agree, 
though I have not seen the other place. 
How are you getting through the heat of 
August then, you ask ? I can only say 
that it is the heat that does the getting 
through. It never ceases to come out of 
one's pores and every one of them. I have 
discovered only one remedy for it, and 
that is to be too busy to even think of it. 
It is fatal if you let your eye rest longingly 
on the sofa, and sink there to meditate 
on the heat. You are its victim at once. 
Of course one often gets a rude reminder 
in the middle of one's forgetfulness. 
Especially when I feel a strange thing round 
my neck and put up my hand to find a 
circlet of pulp where only a short time 
before there had been a stiff starched collar, 
fresh from the laundry. It was rather dis- 
concerting last Sunday to make the dis- 
covery at my fourth service when I entered 
the vestry at the church in Valletta. I 
had left only half an hour to get across 



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from my service at Bighi, and the only 
dghaisa I could get was manned by one old 
man. I would have taken an oar only the 
thought of my collar restrained me. I 
might have done so without much difference 
in results, for the quarter-of-a-mile hurried 
walk effectively did for it, and when I felt 
for a collar on which to tie my bands there 
was none left worthy of the name. There 
is only one place where one escapes from 
the heat, and even then I have my doubts. 
The first thing you make for on getting 
home is a cold bath. By that time you are 
in an extravagant mood and forget that 
every drop of water is charged for, and, 
with a wild joy, fill the bath, but even 
when you get completely under the cold 
water I am not quite sure whether you are 
not still perspiring ! 

THE MOSQUITOES 

The mosquitoes, harbingers of summer, 
have returned in force. Like the rising 
generation, one doubts whether they are 
better than their grandparents of last 



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summer. In fact, they are just chips of 
the old block, as Americans would say, and 
are busy with their old game. My respect, 
however, for them has increased. I do not 
know whether Malta mosquitoes are wiser 
than their cousins of other regions. I have 
been compelled to undertake a painful 
study of them, and alas ! it is no second- 
hand evidence I offer you. Personal in- 
vestigations have been forced upon me, 
and reluctantly I have discovered that the 
Malta mosquito has a wonderful brain. 

This is how he goes about his business. 
As you are at a safe distance it will not 
unduly pain you if I narrate something of 
his frightfulness. He alights on my cheek 
when I am half awake, and lowers his long 
proboscis, which resembles somewhat an 
elephant's trunk, and extends its divided 
lobes until they get a firm grip of the skin. 
Then he is ready for action, and is as happy 
as a surgeon who has a delicate operation in 
hand. Inside this proboscis are five knives, 
with which he begins to cut a way through 
the flesh, going deeper and deeper until the 

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blood spurts out. Now he inserts a tube, 
through which he sucks up the blood. If 
this were all the damage he did we might 
be content with calling him a mere 
marauder, and not a murderer. But, un- 
fortunately, he is playing the German 
game here, and many of our casualties are 
due to him. You see he does not take 
the care he ought when he goes from person 
to person, and, unlike a good surgeon, 
leaves his lancets unwiped. The conse- 
quence is that he carries germs from the 
blood of one man to another. These may 
be virulent microbes, that benefit by the 
change, and in their new surroundings 
reproduce themselves in millions, and thus 
cause fever. The particular braininess of 
the Maltese mosquito is in the crafty way 
he smuggles himself in the daytime through 
the net, and hides under your pillow until 
the propitious moment, when you are sound 
asleep. Only in his case there is this com- 
pensation, he does not know when to stop, 
and gorges himself to such an extent that 
his sin finds him out. In the morning he 
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is weighted with his repast. Revenge 
has its chance, and that is an end of him. 

HUMOROUS STORIES 

The Hospital Wardisperhapsthelastplace 
where you would expect to come across funny 
incidents. Possibly the sombre background 
heightens by contrast what humour there 
is, and gives it greater piquancy. 

One very opinionative patient was cruelly 
rebuked by a slip of the orderly's pen. I 
asked him what religion he was, and for 
answer he looked at me very superiorly and 
said, " I am a Rationalist/' 

" Oh, I understand," I replied. " I could 
not just quite make out what was written 
on your card." 

We took it down for closer inspection, 
and found that the orderly in his haste or 
his army love for contraction had written, 
" Religion RAT." 

Another on being asked what he was 
suffering from quite innocently answered, 
" C.O.E." 

Again the orderly had been in a hurry 
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and had inserted his religious denomina- 
tion in the space left for the description of 
his disease, and the patient I suppose had 
been wondering what kind of strange 
illness these letters indicated. 

This story reminds me of another. A 
patient when asked by Rev. W. Cowan 
what his disease was, answered, " Well, I 
don't quite know. I have had three 
specialists looking at me and they don't 
seem to know either. You can put me 
down as a medical curio." 

This leads up to the story told by Mr. 
W. M. Grant, one of our Guild workers. 
A man said to him in the tent one day, 
"I've had seeven dochtors, an' been rubbit 
wi' seeven different kinds o' lotions, an' 
forbye a' that I have had three peels, an* 
I'm no a whit the better." 

Rev. C. McEchern was passing through 
one of the tents in St. Patrick's Camp on 
St. Patrick's day, and came on a typical 
Irish soldier looking very disconsolate. 

" You ought to be in better spirits on St. 
Patrick's day," he said. 



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" I am not of his persuasion/' was the 
glum response. 

The difficulties of the chaplain have 
sometimes their sadly humorous aspect. 
Mr. Cowan was visiting a Welshman the 
other day who was very ill. 

" Have you written to your wife ? " he 
asked. 

" No, I am not able. Will you do it ? " 

" Yes, but you must give me her address/ 1 

For answer there came curious guttural 
sounds from the man's throat. The chap- 
lain bent his head as near as possible but 
could make nothing of them. 

" Spell it," he said at last in desperation, 
for the man's strength was sinking, and 
this is the entry that stands in the chap- 
lain's notebook : 

"CCLLHWRY Y " 

The Scot is not supposed to be very quick 
at repartee, but loyalty will sharpen any 
man's wits, as it did the lad to whom 
Mr. Cowan handed a magazine with the 
picture of an actress on its cover. 

" There is a pretty girl to look at," he said. 
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" Aye, but I ken whar thar's a bonnier 
ane," was the retort of the true-hearted 
lad, who was thinking of the girl he had 
left behind him. 

He was more chivalrous than his fellow- 
countryman, to whom the same chaplain 
put the question, " Are you married ? ' 

" Na, na ! " was the ungallant answer. 
" Fechtin' the Turks is quite enough by 
User." 

There was grim point to the reply given 
by a wounded soldier, who had been en- 
during intense agony, when asked how he 
felt. " Just as I wad lik' twa men to feel 
the Kaiser an' the Crown Prince." 

From the mail-bag one might pick out 
many tit-bits of unconscious humour. 
Here is an extract from a letter by a lady 
written to one of our chaplains. " My son 
is in a Malta hospital suffering from dys- 
entery. The last time he had it the doctor 
ordered him half a pound of best rump steak 
daily. Will you see that he gets it ? " 

Another commission for the chaplain 
was as follows, " Do you think you could 
K i45 



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possibly trace a pair of pyjamas, which I 
sent to my son who was in a hospital in 
Malta ? " " 

So the shadows have their glimpses of 
sunshine, and a laugh is occasionally heard 
where it sounds strangely. 

THE BELLS 

But there go the bells : For months they 
have been silent, and visitors did not know 
they were in Valletta. Harder than for 
many a busy gossip has it been for them to 
keep their tongues tied, and now St. John's 
has broken loose. Of course it is Sep- 
tember 8, and all who read their histories 
know that Valletta could not keep silent 
on that historic date. 

" Oh the bells, bells, bells, 
What a tale their terror tells 

Of despair ! 

How they clang, and clash, and roar, 
What a horror they outpour 

On the bosom of the palpitating air ! " 

If on September 8, 1565, they rang as 
they are doing now I do not wonder that 
the Turks ran away. From May 18 to 

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September 8 the ships and armies of Soly- 
man the Magnificent besieged this island 
fortress. Opposed to him was a small 
band of the Knights of St. John, headed by 
their Grand Master, the great La Valette. 
Never has personal character or skilful 
leadership inspired men more. La Valette 
was everywhere. Although the world 
realised it not he was fighting almost 
single-handed the critical action of that 
great contest with the followers of Moham- 
med, whose rearguard action is being 
fought to-day. La Valette first broke the 
power of Turkey on the rocky cliffs of 
Malta. 

" Vain are the efforts of fierce Othman's hordes, 

They bite the dust ; they see above them fly 
The banner of the Cross upheld by swords 
Of men resolved to conquer or to die." 

On the morning of that September 8 the 
bells broke into a laugh and the people wept 
for joy. Not a warrior but was wounded, 
not a wall but was reddened with blood ; 
but the Turks had turned and fled. They 
did not know how near victory they were ; 



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how little blood there was still left to 
be shed. The valour of La Valette and his 
knights had awed them, and their com- 
mander feared less the wrath of the dis- 
appointed Solyman than the swords of 
those men who set the world an example 
of how to die. The inspiration of that 
thrilling victory is left not merely to the 
bells to repeat ; an Italian poet has caught 
its spirit in his address to the Maltese 
youth : 

" Let evermore that stainless glory shine 

Before your eyes the glory of your sires ; 
And in your hearts, as in a sacred shrine, 
Burn evermore their patriot warrior fires ! 

Oh, may the story of that deathless fight 

Still make you like your fathers, brave and strong ; 

May some great minstrel shape the tale aright 
And tell it to the world in deathless song." 



CHAPTER VII 



ORGANISATION 
MEDICAL 

THE development of the hospital 
accommodation of Malta has been 
one of the remarkable achieve- 
ments of the great war. At the beginning 
of May 1915 only a few hundred beds were 
available for the use of the sick and 
wounded soldiers. In the succeeding 
months those resident or on duty in Malta 
were witnesses of a wonderful pageant 
the opening of hospital after hospital till 
at the end of November 1915 the island 
could accommodate 20,000 patients, and 
actually did house that number. With 
a little more effort the number of beds 
could easily have been increased to 25,000, 
and the plans and material for this increase 



Organisation 



were ready. In all twenty-seven hospitals 
and camps were established, including 
Chain Tuffieha, which in itself contained 
four camps holding 4,000 men. 

This development of hospitals, all admir- 
ably staffed with medical officers and nurses 
and equipped with everything that was 
necessary for the welfare of the sick and 
wounded, was due to the energy and ad- 
ministrative skill of Colonels Sleman and 
Cumming. They worked under the fostering 
guidance of His Excellency, Lord Methuen, 
whose extraordinary activity, enthusiasm, 
sympathy and wisdom in counsel are known 
to all workers in Malta. Surgeon-General 
Whitehead arrived in August, and ener- 
getically furthered the work on. Malta was 
fortunate in the officers who came to serve 
her, but behind all the brains and organisa- 
tion so complete was the heart of the 
Governor, which imparted the inspiration 
and driving force which made all the 
machinery run sweetly. 

Engraved on His Excellency's heart must 
be the motto, " Labor ipse voluptas," 

15 



Organisation 



for he has won all hearts by his untiring 
and incessant labours, visiting with the 
regularity of a chaplain one hospital every 
day, and cheering the wounded with ready 
words of encouragement, and many a 
happy sally. The motto I have quoted 
gives the key of the reason why all in Malta 
love him, and are proud to serve under him. 

It is impossible adequately to describe 
the wonderful work that has been done 
in Malta. The reader should remember 
that everything had to be imported into 
the island, which, after all, is but a bare 
rock, not supplying in peace time sufficient 
food for the inhabitants, and growing only 
vegetables, grain, fruit, poultry and goats ! 
Nevertheless the sick and wounded soldier 
never lacked any comfort or luxury which 
would aid his recovery. 

In the summer of 1915 the hospitals were 
staffed by nearly 300 medical officers, and 
the nursing sisters reached almost 1,000 
in number. Over the latter was Miss 
Hoadley. She was assisted by the matrons 
of the different hospitals. In the strenuous 



Organisation 



days they were almost swept off their feet 
with the sudden inrush of nurses. To 
appoint these to their several stations, and 
select for promotion those especially quali- 
fied for larger responsibilities, required quick 
judgment of character as well as business- 
like gifts. Everywhere and at all times the 
medical officers and nursing sisters seemed 
to illustrate in their daily life the concluding 
words of a remarkable passage in Steven- 
son's "El Dorado " " And the true success 
is to labour." 

About one-half of the nursing sisters were 
V.A.D.'s, or only partly trained nurses ; 
but without their self-sacrificing labours 
the sick and wounded could not have been 
properly looked after and nursed. It is 
only right to say that these so-called partly 
trained ladies did superb work on many 
critical occasions, and that many of them 
were highly educated, and had made big 
sacrifices in relinquishing home and com- 
forts at the call of duty to nurse the British 
soldier. 

The fully qualified nurses had a great 
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Organisation 



strain put upon them when the sudden 
inrush of wounded came, but they rose to 
the occasion manfully. The adjective fits 
the case, for to all the feminine qualities 
of tenderness and sympathy which are 
necessary for a nurse there must be added 
something almost masculine, not merely 
strength of muscle, but a firmness of will, 
and powers of quick decision. These were 
manifested in the hospitals of Malta. The 
matrons especially, exercised a strong influ- 
ence in their several spheres. In charge 
of Valletta Hospital, and also of the largest 
home for nurses was Miss Brown, and she 
discharged the duties of her dual office with 
thoroughness and industry. Miss McFar- 
lane who left St. Patrick's Camp, for St. 
Andrew's Hospital, and then for the Front, 
was the subject of many letters of gratitude 
in the local press from her patients, and 
the sorrow at her departure was one of the 
finest testimonies to the power and influ- 
ence of a good and clever woman in a 
position of authority. In another chapter 
I refer to Miss McDougall, who has since 



Organisation 



been promoted from Ghain Tuffieha Camp 
to Cottonera Hospital. The blend of gentle- 
ness and firmness, the happy knack of 
putting patients and nurses at their ease 
in her presence, is not only characteristic 
of her, but of the other matrons in Malta, 
whose success has depended so much on 
mixing in right proportions the official and 
human elements in their nature. 

In the high pressure of work night and 
day last summer Ruskin's words may be 
used as descriptive of the Medical Officers 
and Nursing Sisters of the Malta Command 
of the British Army : " Adventuring for 
man's sake apart from all reward they 
seem to long at once to save mankind, to 
make some unexampled sacrifice on their 
behalf, to bring some wondrous good from 
heaven or earth for them or perish winning 
eternal weal in the act/' and indeed death 
took toll both of Medical Officers and Nurs- 
ing Sisters. 

To one of these I must allude for I have 
experienced a personal loss in the death of 
Lieutenant McGowan, of Grangemouth, 



Organisation 



who was stationed at St. George's Hospital. 
From the start he offered to help me in all 
my work, and during the months when I 
was single-handed he and Captain MacKin- 
non took practically the work of St. George's 
off my shoulders. Busy enough with their 
medical duties, they yet never missed a 
service they could possibly attend, setting 
a splendid example to their patients, which 
was followed. Lieutenant McGowan was 
seized with fever, and his illness was short. 
It was my sad privilege to wait on him 
during those days, and witness as heroic 
a death as any on the battlefield. The 
same night I officiated at his funeral, which 
was one of the largest I have yet seen on 
the island, as he was laid to rest in peaceful 
Pieta with all military honours. 

A word must be added in praise of the 
British Army Medical Administration under 
Sir Alfred Keogh, K.C.B. When the first 
consulting surgeon arrived in May 1915 
on the island he came with this message 
from the Director-General, " We wish to 
bring to the humblest soldier the best 



Organisation 



available surgery, and that which is not the 
best is not good enough. " 

During 1915 the following Senior Con- 
sultants worked on the island. 

Colonel Charles Ballance, Surgeon to 
St. Thomas' Hospital. 

Colonel Charters Symonds, Surgeon to 
Guy's Hospital. 

Colonel Thorburn, Surgeon to the Man- 
chester Royal Infirmary. 

Colonel Purves Stewart, Physician to 
Westminster Hospital. 

Colonel Gulland, Physician to the Edin- 
burgh Royal Infirmary. 

Colonel Garrod, Physician to St. Bar- 
tholomew's Hospital. 

These men worked as a band of brothers. 
All serious cases were by order at once 
notified to them by telephone and were 
visited, and consultations held. No serious 
operation or amputation was allowed to be 
performed without consultation. Every 
hospital was visited at least twice a week 
by the physicians and surgeons ; and 
methodical visits to the wards and to all 

156 



Organisation 



cases were made as is the custom in peace 
time in all the great hospitals. Sunday was 
no exception, and on that day rest was no 
more possible in the hospitals than on 
week-days. The labours of the consultants 
were incessant, and often extended far 
into the night. 

In the subordinary sciences, which are 
so essential to the investigation of disease 
and injury, such as pathology, bacteriology, 
and radiography the island was well sup- 
plied by Sir Alfred Keogh with able and 
earnest scientific workers. These by their 
labours immensely assisted in unravelling 
difficult and obscure problems in Clinical 
diagnosis and treatment ; and thus in 
every conceivable manner the welfare and 
recovery of the sick and wounded soldier 
was provided for. 

RECREATION TENTS 

If you do not kill time, time will kill you. 
The man who has nothing to do grows 
prematurely old. Health-making is a com- 
plex art : it requires not merely the surgeon 



Organisation 



and his bottles, bat stimulus for mind and 
spirit. 

His Excellency, Lord Methuen, was quick 
to realise that fact, and welcomed most 
gratefully the offer of Recreation Tents 
for the wounded, when at the end of June 
1915 I suggested the matter to him. The 
Guild of the United Free Church of Scot- 
land responded to my request by sending 
out two thoroughly equipped tents, well 
staffed by men experienced in such work. 

The great organisation of the Y.M.C.A. 
was not idle in the matter, and soon they 
had a dozen or more tents on the island 
with a staff of thirty workers. In a sub- 
sequent chapter I refer to the organising 
skill of Mr. Wilson, who so ably laid the 
foundations of the successful work carried 
on by the Y.M.C.A. A better man could 
not have been sent to break ground, and 
quickly he won the high esteem and con- 
fidence of all from His Excellency the 
Governor to the private who found in him 
a true friend, and the sorrow at his depar- 
ture was universal. 

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Organisation 



He was succeeded by Mr. Wheeler who 
quickly developed the work. His Excel* 
lency the Governor gave the Y.M.C.A. a 
suite of rooms in the Palace Buildings for 
Head Quarters, and with the assistance of 
motor-cars they soon had completed an 
organisation that left no camp uncared for, 
and that reflects great credit on Mr. Wheeler 
who has shown himself a master of detail. 

H?? Excellency the Governor has, I know, 
put a generous estimate on the part per- 
formed by these tents in the recovery of 
the men. Without those centres of recrea- 
tion and fellowship life under canvas would 
have been dreary enough, especially in the 
more isolated parts of the island. 

In a camp where one of our Guild Tents 
has been placed the Commanding Officer 
said to me that from the day it was opened 
crime had diminished by 50 per cent. 

ENTERTAINMENTS 

But there were other things that were not 
overlooked. Lord Methuen has shown 
himself a true believer in the power of 



Organisation 



music to soothe and charm, and perhaps the 
best exponent of his theory was the Hon. 
Seymour Methuen, who is an accomplished 
violinist. She was ever ready to place her 
skill at the service of those who were seek- 
ing to entertain the wounded. In this 
connection there is one name that will be 
remembered by the thousands whose days 
of suffering were enlivened by music and 
song, and that is Major Hasell. He was 
the man behind the scenes. You had only 
to give him the order at short notice for a 
ready-made concert party, and the article 
was promptly supplied. What necro- 
mancer's art he possessed has been the 
puzzle of us all. Certainly he never failed. 
The Y.M.C.A. also did their best to supply 
this need, and their splendidly equipped 
concert party became very popular in all 
the camps. 

BRITISH RED CROSS AND ORDER OF ST. JOHN 

This leads me to speak of the work of 
one of the largest societies for the welfare 
of the soldiers, The British Red Cross 

160 



Organisation 



and Order of St. John. Endowed with 
generously gifted funds and with splendid 
head quarters, this society pursued its work 
under favourable conditions. Its opera- 
tions were varied. It supplied each hos- 
pital with a staff of lady visitors. These 
were warmly welcomed by the wounded. 
It also had a little gift box prepared for 
each arrival, containing just the things a 
man might need. It was the recipient of 
large gifts of clothing and hospital requi- 
sites for the use of the wounded, and these 
were distributed wherever required. It 
also had a concert party that did yeoman 
service, and in this way it carried 
out most successfully its aim to care 
for the physical and social needs of our 
suffering soldiers. 

One great centre of entertainment was 
the beautiful building erected at Pembroke 
by money sent from the colonies, and fit- 
tingly named by His Excellency the 
Governor, The Australian Hall. Here the 
Red Cross carry on a Recreation Room for 
the wounded in the Pembroke district, and 
L 161 



Organisation 



on many nights in the week the large hall 
is filled to overflowing with an audience of 
convalescents who listen with great appre- 
ciation to the entertainment of song and 
recitation provided for them. The Gym- 
nasium and Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, 
carried on in Valletta by the Church of 
England, have taken their share nobly in 
the extra burden imposed upon them by 
the war, as also the Connaught Home 
run by the Wesleyans. 

It would be impossible to speak of all 
the methods that have been devised for the 
entertainment of our wounded. Maltese 
ladies have been eager to help, and many 
a private party has been given to Tommy 
which the world may not hear of, but which 
he will not forget. The services which 
Mrs. Bonavia has rendered have earned 
the gratitude of all, and the special Tea 
Room at Sliema, run by her and the ladies 
of the Red Cross, has proved a most popular 
rendezvous for the convalescent soldier. 

The ladies of St. Paul's Church have done 
their part by providing a roof tea every 
162 



Organisation 



Sunday afternoon for the wounded, and 
this has been much appreciated by the men. 
While at St. Paul's Bay the wife of the 
colonel in command there has started a 
tea-room for the benefit of the troops in 
that neighbourhood. 

Thus it will be seen that nothing has been 
left undone that could in any way lighten 
the lot of the man whose ill fortune made 
him fortunate enough to become one of 
Malta's spoiled children. But you will 
agree with me that they all deserved all the 
spoiling that could be bestowed upon them, 
and I am glad to say that their heads were 
in no way turned by it, though the post- 
man's bag was made the heavier by the 
increasing number of letters of gratitude 
written by the men when they had rejoined 
their regiment, and were looking back on 
the good times they had had in Malta. 

All this varied social work found a ready 
sympathiser and helper in Lady Methuen. 
Not only did she organise and superintend, 
but she visited personally the hospitals, 
and no visitor left a more gracious memory 
163 



Organisation 



behind her. She cared for all classes. For 
the officers she established a homely club, 
where the strongest refreshment was a good 
cup of tea, and which was much appre- 
ciated by those who frequented it. For the 
soldiers she was constantly planning some 
new means of helping them. For the 
nurses, along with His Excellency, she 
gave up for several months their beautiful 
palace of St. Antonio, that the nurses might 
have a holiday there. These acts so 
thoughtful and generous can never be for- 
gotten as long as the story of Malta's hos- 
pitals will be told. 

THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT 

Though out of sight the marvellous work 
of the Ordnance Department in Malta should 
not be out of mind. Remember two facts, 
that into Malta practically everything has 
to be imported, and that when the rush 
came and hospitals and camps sprang up 
in a night there was no time to send to 
England for all the necessary equipment. 
How was it supplied ? I will take you to a 

164 



Organisation 



factory that usually turns out war material 
only. But there were brains there as well 
as hands. So all turned to, and soon all 
kinds of hospital furniture was being 
produced. Here were back rests for the 
wounded, there full length-baths. Mos- 
quito net poles, iron beds, motor trollies, 
camp tents, limber and gun carriages are 
but a small assortment of the medley of 
necessary articles that took shape in this 
establishment. From " a pin to a gun " 
or " a needle to an anchor" is how one 
might describe the endless variety, without 
which Malta would have been powerless 
to do its healing. 

Five hundred workmen had the busiest 
time in their lives, and their skill and 
promptitude eased many a poor fellow's 
suffering. " We are all soldiers only wear- 
ing different uniforms," said His Excellency 
the Governor to them, and their willingness 
and devoted energy will surely not go 
without its reward. 



165 



CHAPTER VIII 



THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW 

I CAN give it no other name. It is in 
the hospital wards where this Valley 
casts its longest and deepest shadow. 
On the battlefield the shadow falls, but it 
quickly flits past, leaving behind the 
hastily dug graves. Death is sudden, the 
Valley is robbed of its lingering terrors to 
some extent ; but in the hospital it is other- 
wise, the shadow lingers and you walk in 
it for days ; nay, you are never free from 
it. You see it gathering round this bed and 
that. Too well have you learned its signs, 
and though the brave sufferer says cheerily 
that " he is getting on fine/' you know that 
already his feet are entering the Valley, 
and the heart yearns to light the way a 
little for him. To hold before him some of 
the Bible's gracious promises, that the dark 

166 



The Valley of the Shadow 



path might be brightened, is the chaplain's 
greatest privilege but most trying task. 
To accompany the departing warrior as 
far as earthly footsteps can, and then to 
stretch out as it were the hand with the 
torch of Truth that the rays may guide 
him until, beyond the shadows, he passes 
into a brighter Light ; it is this that causes 
soul strain. 

The shadow I see has fallen across my 
manuscript it falls everywhere here, like 
the dust, and if for the moment you feel its 
chill, my excuse must be, that if you wish 
to understand Malta at present you can- 
not escape looking into the Valley. 

August has been very different from July. 
The funerals have now mounted up to fifteen 
and twenty a day. One beginsj;he day at 
the graveside and ends it there. Every 
morning as I drive out the one mile to 
peaceful Pieta Cemetery I feel the revolt of 
Nature at this haunting of Death. At six 
in the morning Malta is lovely. The sun 
has not yet got its deadly range, and in the 
soft breeze one feels the wooing of life. 
167 



The Valley of the Shadow 



The birds are happy, and when one hears a 
laugh, which is rather a rare thing here, you 
feel in sympathy with it. Even the solemn 
cypress trees that keep sad vigil over the 
graves seem less sombre. For the moment 
one feels far removed from death, all round 
there is an awakening to life. Then from 
a distance on the morning air there breaks 
in with its dull discord a single beat of a 
drum, followed solemnly by another and 
then another. Death is not banished, or 
silent, but comes to mock the beauty of 
life. Slowly the cortege nears, men can 
set their watches by it now in Malta as 
they hasten to their work. Not one coffin, 
but many are laid in the deep, stone-lined 
graves, and the town, as its activities begin 
to stir, hears again the three solemn volleys 
and the haunting echoes of the " Last 
Post/' as soldiers bid farewell to their 
fallen comrades. The officiating chaplains 
part to meet again at the same place at 
sunset, for the same sad duties. But be- 
tween these hours there is much to do. 
But come with me through the wards 
168 



The Valley of the Shadow 



where the Shadow falls. The recovering 
and the dying lie side by side. A curtain 
round one cot tells its own tale. Behind it 
the surgeon and nurses are making a final 
effort to rally the ebbing strength of a 
sinking man. But all are not in that con- 
dition. So in our survey we will leave the 
worst cases to the last. 

From the background of Malta a great 
procession of faces looks out upon me. 
The person who stands still as the crowd 
goes by sees more of them than one who is 
actually part of the moving throng. The 
latter is only familiar with those around who 
keep step with him. A rough calculation 
puts the figure at about thirty thousand 
men with whom I have come into personal 
contact either through visitation or by 
meeting them at our Soldiers' Club. They 
resolve themselves into types, and perhaps 
a study of these might, interest you. 

THE OLD SOLDIER 

The man who saved the Empire, who 
broke the back of the enemy before he got 

169 



The Valley of the Shadow 



his first thrust home, all honour to the 
courage, and discipline, and self-sacrifice 
of this type of hero ! We have had many 
here, and you can generally recognise them 
at a first glance. 

One I have good cause for remembering. 
He was a sergeant in the K.O.S.B. His 
twenty years' service had written his certi- 
ficate plainly in his face. That he had been 
so long in the army seemed almost impos- 
sible, so youthful he looked with his smartly 
trimmed moustache, though on a closer 
scrutiny one recognised the lines on the 
tanned cheeks, engraved there by strenuous 
efforts, acts of quick decision in many a 
tight corner, and by the moulding hand of 
discipline which gave strong character to 
the features. 

I found it remarkably easy to win his 
confidence. Perhaps the fact that I hap- 
pened to have in my bag his home local 
paper, which he had not seen for months, 
was a key that helped to unlock the door 
of his heart. He looked pretty badly 
wounded, and I hesitated about telling 

170 



The Valley of the Shadow 



him that on Sunday morning I was going 
to hold a service in that hospital. 

"If I can crawl along I'll come/' he 
said. 

This heartened me ; and, knowing how 
difficult it is to start a service until it takes 
on amongst the men, I added " and bring 
any others you can." 

" I'll bring 'em," was his answer. 

On Sunday morning I was surprised at 
the size of my congregation. Never before 
or since have I had one like it there. The 
Sergeant had brought 'em. He had made 
his whole ward, which was a big one, turn 
out en masse, without any fine distinctions 
as to denominations of religion or over- 
sensitive feelings for wounded limbs. Ban- 
daged and on crutches they limped along, 
the Sergeant bringing up the rear leaning 
on two sticks. It was a tribute to the 
wonderful influence he had over his fellow- 
sufferers. He was a born leader of men, of 
the type generals are made if only he had 
had a wider education and greater oppor- 
tunities. 

171 



The Valley of the Shadow 



THE BOY SOLDIER 

We have had them too. There are no 
lines on their faces, not even the buddings 
of a coming moustache. They have trifled 
with truth I fear, and followed the example 
of their maiden aunt, whose weak spot the 
census papers have discovered by manip- 
ulating their natal dates, only instead of 
aspiring to youth they have coveted age. 
The recruiting officer also, I think, has turned 
the blind spot in his eye on them, and so 
they have become men before their time. 
One who has been a frequenter of the club 
has been called " The Baby." He is proud 
of the title, which shows, of course, that it 
is inappropriate, for if there was ever a 
tougher little bit of humanity than this lad 
I have yet to discover it. There is a 
naivete about his battle yarns that is de- 
lightful. His experience of the nursery 
has been too recent for him to see anything 
in the sterner realities of life than a big 
game. This unconsciousness was a verit- 
able shield to his soul, which had passed 

172 



The Valley of the Shadow 



through the ordeal of battle without its 
simplicity being marred, and yet withal he 
is a little piece of hard granite. 

There is another who has earned the same 
name. He is the pet of a certain hospital. 
Poor boy, all the kindness and caressing 
are a meagre recompense for his lost limbs. 
His pale face, and eyes liquid in their quick 
tenderness of feeling, in whose depths one 
searches in vain for a reproach against his 
fate, move one strangely. He is a greater 
force in the world to-day than when grip- 
ping his rifle he formed but one in the long 
khaki line. Suffering has singled him out 
for distinction. He is a marked man in 
the ward, he will be a marked man in his 
whole journey through life. Voices grow 
more tender in his presence, rough hands 
vie for the honour of wheeling his chair. 
The men who have legs of their own and 
can walk up town always bring some little 
gift back with them for him. Four the 
other day said that they would lift his 
chair into the ferry steamer and take him 
for a wheel to the other side of the harbour. 



The Valley of the Shadow 



The nurses, I think, are jealous for his 
smiles. Poor, fair-haired boy, who will 
never walk again ; he is but beginning his 
task. It will not be that of killing Boches. 
To make a gentleman of every man who 
meets him and a lady of every woman who 
enters his presence, that is to be his future 
role in life. Already he has begun well. 
All the men in his ward are gentlemen, and 
the nurses ladies, whatever they might have 
been before. It has been good for others 
to dwell under the shadow of that broken 
life. He is destined to be God's polisher, 
to refine other souls, to bring human ten- 
derness to the surface, to make hearts the 
reflection of divine pity and love. 

THE MAN WHO IS IN LOVE 

You soon get to diagnose his symptoms, 
and it takes very little tact to draw out his 
story. His wounded heart yearns for the 
balm of sympathy. I have listened to so 
many love tales, and read so many love 
letters during these months that I now feel 
an expert in the science. Really one very 

174 



The Valley of the Shadow 



quickly acquires the art of discerning 
accurately the position of your confidant. 
Has he been cruelly jilted, or has some mis- 
understanding which a word can put right 
arisen, or is he the victim of morbid fancies, 
or is the hand of the mischief-maker to be 
detected ? A little practice and you are 
soon able to answer these questions right 
off. What plots for romance have been 
suggested as real life unbared its tragedies 
and sometimes its comedies ! 

All these letters and talks have defined 
for me one face ugly as Satan, despite the 
hypocrisy of smiles, with eyes that cannot 
look straight, and with lines of cunning 
that blend into those of cruelty. It is the 
face of the mischief-maker whose foul game 
is to make sport out of the miseries of others. 
The mental depravity of the mischief-maker 
I can never understand. Unfortunately 
he or she I fear most frequently the latter 
has drifted into the nefarious pastime un- 
consciously. Possibly they tasted blood 
with their first sweet morsel of gossip, and 
their moral downfall has been quicker and 



The Valley of the Shadow 



lower than that of the drunkard. The 
morbid craving has enslaved them, and they 
have become a pest to society. I never 
knew what beasts of prey they were until I 
saw the marks of their teeth and claws on 
our suffering soldiers. Deeper and more 
ghastly than the wounds of the Turk are 
the injuries they inflict on the hearts of 
their victims. It is all done so simply and 
apparently so innocently. If I were a dic- 
tator at present I would round up all the 
mischief-makers and shoot them as traitors. 
Dante, I think, consigned them to the 
punishment of having their lips sewed 
together with thread. But then Dante 
was too kind ; he had not been a chaplain, 
and listened to the heart agonies of men 
who, exiled from home, felt powerless to 
undo the evil. 

Their letters have a wonderful sameness. 
They are generally from a cousin, a sister- 
in-law, or candid friend, and the remark 
is thrown in casually that the writer has 
seen Mary Jane with so-and-so, and that 
they were very thick and something more. 



The Valley of the Shadow 



Mary Jane being, of course, the girl to 
whom the soldier is engaged. Now, a man 
who is lying on a bed of fever or pain has 
generally lost the sense of humour. He 
takes things very seriously, and as he has 
little to think about except this bit of news 
which he has got from home, he turns it 
over and over in his mind until it festers. 
The doctor wonders why his temperature 
goes up, and one day it is the chaplain who 
discovers the cause. In a confidential 
mood the sufferer tells his trouble to 
sympathetic ears, and the chaplain who has 
had experience very soon sees that he is 
on the trail of another mischief-maker, 
and would like to wire home for her instant 
arrest, only our laws do not reach the real 
culprits. 

Now, if these were isolated cases, I would 
not have wasted a page on them, but, 
looking back on my year here, and recalling 
my conversations with the men, I see how 
largely this topic bulks. Perhaps our wise 
women at home can bring kindly pressure 
to bear on all letter-writers, especially to 
M 177 



The Valley of the Shadow 



our wounded, to avoid subjects that would 
irritate or arouse suspicions. The man in 
love forms a big percentage of our fighting 
force, and his special difficulties require 
delicate handling. 

THE THOUGHTFUL YOUTH 

There is a class of young man which 
grows impatient at the kind of mental 
pabulum considered by friends at home to 
be just the thing for wounded men. I do 
not say this class is large, but I fear that 
it is not being catered for. 

" I want something to make me think/ ' 
a young man said to me one day, when I 
asked him what he would like to read. I 
wished then that I had some popular his- 
tories or good biographies, or religious 
books that were readable, that did not 
hide great truths under a ponderous weight 
of learning which is apt to make sentences 
top-heavy, but books in which truth was 
put in simple and attractive form so that 
the reader assimilated it, and was not 
aware that the thoughts conveyed were 

178 



The Valley of the Shadow 



profound until they began to ferment in 
his own brain and made him think. There 
is need for such in our hospital wards, 
where the mind is healthy and craves for 
food though the body may be suffering. 

Some youths of this class came to me the 
other day. They were finding time heavy 
on their hands, and wished to put their 
idle moments to best advantage. So I sug- 
gested that I would teach them French. 
It would be useful for them when they 
returned to the Front in France, and in 
order that they might have the best of all 
text-books to study I chose the New Testa- 
ment in French, and have sent home for 
sufficient copies. Future kind donors 
might perhaps take the hint and remember 
this special class, which is one that will 
repay any effort spent on it. 



THE GRATEFUL MAN 

Some of the remarks which our seriously 
wounded make unconsciously reveals the 
spirit of the Briton. I asked one man 
179 



The Valley of the Shadow 



whose body had been mangled by a shell 
if he were in much pain. 

" Yes, when I think of it," he answered. 

Another whose leg was off and who had 
a bad wound in his back replied, " I might 
be much worse, like that poor chap down 
there who has lost his arm." 

Mr. Cowan tells of a soldier who had a 
wound through his chest, and who could 
breathe only with great difficulty. This 
was not his only wound, for the bullet had 
first of all passed through his wrist. 

" It was a lucky thing I got that wound," 
said the sufferer, pointing to his bandaged 
arm. " The surgeon tells me that by 
passing through my wrist the bullet got 
cleaned, and therefore the chest wound is 
not so dangerous as it would otherwise be." 
There are always two ways of looking at 
even a misfortune. Happy the man who 
has the knack of seeing it from the stand- 
point of gratitude. The experience of our 
hospitals is that our soldiers practise that 
art, and it greatly assists in their cure. 

One day in passing through a ward Mr. 
180 



The Valley of the Shadow 



Cowan saw a patient with a crucifix hanging 
above his bed. The man was a Roman 
Catholic, and both his arms were badly 
shattered, and stretched out in " cradles." 
The thought suggested was natural, and 
the chaplain could not refrain from remark- 
ing that the crucifix had its reflection on 
the bed. 

" Yes, sir, but my suffering was nothing 
to His ; it comforts me to think that the 
Lord knows it all, and understands the pain, 
and if He does not remove it He gives me 
strength to bear it." 

THE VALLEY 

But I wished to take you just a little way 
into the Valley with me that you might see 
with what brave firm steps our heroes pass 
from us. Where there are so many inci- 
dents to relate I hardly know which to 
-select. Let me choose the very latest, a 
bedside I visited yesterday evening. I had 
been spending four hours in Floriana 
Hospital, and it was after seven o'clock, 
and I was leaving a ward with the intention 
181 



The Valley of the Shadow 



of going home, when suddenly I heard a 
faint voice say : 

" Oh, Chaplain, speak to me." 

I stopped and turned, and in the second 
bed saw a white boyish face. I went over, 
and the lad put his hand out and grasped 
mine, and held on. 

" I am not afraid," he said. " Only I 
would like you to speak to me about God 
and pray with me. I have to undergo an 
operation." 

Quietly in a few words I tried to picture 
to him the compassionate Christ and tell 
him of the door opened by the Cross. As 
I went on I became conscious that there 
were other listeners, and looking round saw 
standing quietly behind me Colonel Symonds, 
the surgical expert, with other two surgeons 
and nurses. He had motioned to them not 
to interrupt. When he saw that I had 
noticed him he touched me on the sleeve, 
and whispered, 

" Go on, we will wait. It will be a very 
serious operation. One leg at least will 
have to come off." 

182 



The Valley of the Shadow 



That sidelight into the sympathy of that 
great surgeon touched me much. His time 
was precious. His day had no doubt been 
a very busy one, and the hour was late, yet 
he would not seek to shorten these last 
minutes of spiritual consolation. I prayed 
with the lad, and he held my hand all 
the time. Poor dear boy, what he needed 
that moment was a mother's tender touch. 
He was about to sacrifice limb and perhaps 
life for our sakes, and he so young and 
gentle. Can we ever prove ourselves 
worthy as a nation of such sublime offer- 
ings ? 

On returning home four yellow envelopes 
lay on my table. I knew what these meant, 
for these are the August days when death 
is knocking constantly at the door. Three 
were intimations of men seriously ill, and 
could be left over until the morning. The 
other was a dangerous case, which I knew 
from sad experience meant that the man 
was dying. He must be seen at once. 
Perhaps he wished a will made out, a last 
message conveyed to loved ones. At all 
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The Valley of the Shadow 



events he needed a word of comfort, the 
grip of a human hand to steady his foot- 
steps in the Valley of the Shadow. 

Shall I take you into the secret confidence 
of that solemn moment ? Will it be 
breaking trust with the dead ? Something 
I will keep back, but there is something I 
will tell, without name, and in words that 
are true to the spirit of the scene if not 
exactly to the letter. 

" Where do you come from ? J I asked. 

He mentioned a parish in Scotland which 
I knew. When I said so a glad light came 
into his eye, and a faint colour warmed the 
pallid cheeks. 

" D'ye ken the hoose on the hill a wee bit- 
tie aboune the kirk, that's my faither's ? " 

" Yes, and I know this that he will be 
praying for you to-night. " 

" An* my mither tae an an Mary. 
Dae ye ken her ? She's no t waive yet, but 
she's the cleverest girl i' the pairish." 

He was thinking of his sister of whom he 
was so fond. 

" I will give them all your love, and tell 
184 



The Valley of the Shadow 



them that you will be waiting for them 
yonder." 

He was silent a moment. Ke understood 
my meaning, but Scottish reticence about 
spiritual things sealed his lips. 

" Ay," was all he said, but it came 
from the heart, and was accompanied by 
the glitter of a tear in the eye. 

" You have had a good father, but there 
is a better One waiting to welcome you. 
He has opened the door of His home for 
you, and stands ready to receive you. Will 
you not be glad to see your Saviour face 
to face ? " 

" Ay." 

" Do you know Him ? " 

" Ay." 

Then the reticence gave way, and the 
dying lad made his first confession. 

" He spoke to me the ither nicht. I was 
alane on guard i' the trenches, an' He 
seemed a' o' a sudden to come that close, 
an' His eyes were fu' o' tenderness an' He 
asked me if I loved Him." 

" And what did you say ? " 
185 



The Valley of the Shadow 



" Just ' ay/ but I meant it, sir." 
I thought of Christ's words, " Let your 
conversation be yea, yea," and knew that 
the monosyllable was more than enough. 

Such is a glimpse of the Valley of the 
Shadow as seen in our hospital wards ; and, 
as one by one our dying men pass beyond 
the range of human voice and touch to 
encounter the last grim enemy, I seem to 
hear the refrain of the hymn they loved, 
and used to sing so lustily : 

Onward, Christian soldiers, 

Marching as to war, 
With the cross of Jesus 

Going on before. 
Christ, the royal Master, 

Leads against the foe ; 
Forward into battle, 

See ! His banners go. 



186 



CHAPTER IX 



A SCOTTISH PICNIC 

MY typewriter and I have not kept 
tryst with you for some weeks. 
We have just been shoving along 
through the pile of letters that faced us, 
and did not feel justified in taking a morn- 
ing off ; for it is a recreation and pleasure 
to spend a few hours with Greenock friends, 
even though it be through the medium of a 
typewriter. 

These weeks have not been idle ; indeed, 
they have been so full of thrilling and 
touching events that I do not know where 
to start, and I hope you will allow me to 
ramble, for this is 

A LETTER, NOT AN ARTICLE. 

There is a subtle difference ; in the latter 
you are master of your words, you choose 
187 



A Scottish Picnic 



them with deliberation, and affix with 
effort the arrow point on to the shaft of the 
sentence ; but in a letter you let the words 
master you, you allow them to carry you 
whither they will. When you start you 
do not know where you are going, and you 
have no need for arrow-heads for you have 
no target. Of course it presupposes a most 
indulgent and sympathetic mood on the 
part of the reader. I feel somehow I may 
take that for granted this morning, for of 
your sympathetic interest I have been so 
assured that I will venture a trial of your 
patience. The real reason why I choose 
thi3 method is that I have no imagination 
left. I have been spending hours in filling 
up the monthly army schedules of my staff, 
and my mind has got so entangled with 
red tape that it is bound hard and fast, 
and can only think in terms of forms, and 
were I to attempt an article there would be 
no spring in it, and it would be fit only for 
the waste-paper basket. 

Speaking of letters : might I explain to 
you the method of our correspondence, as 

188 



A Scottish Picnic 



it will interest a large number who have 
written me. If the person enquired about 
is known, or can be found in Malta, a reply 
to the enquiry is sent at once ; if, as is the 
case in 90 per cent, of the letters received, 
we do not know about the person, then the 
name is put on a list for further enquiries, 
and it may take a long time before any 
information can be obtained, if indeed that 
is possible. So I trust that my corre- 
spondents will exercise patience, knowing 
that no enquiry is overlooked, and that all 
will be done to discover any news of the 
missing, and that silence simply means that 
there is nothing to write. 



MALTA SIGHTS 

Malta insists upon doing a little of her 
own nursing, and right cleverly does she do 
it. She has a panorama of interesting 
views with which to soothe the eye. I will 
not speak of her appeals to the ear and the 
nose. They have been greatly over-em- 
phasised by other writers, and besides after 
189 



A Scottish Picnic 



iodine and other things even street smells 
are a relief. 

The man who is able to limp on his 
crutches as far as the Porte Reale is soon 
made to forget his pains. Perhaps nowhere 
in such little space is there such variety 
of costume or colour. He is soon as amused 
as a child looking at some fairy scene. It 
is a study in lights and shadows, for the 
sun is always blazing except when it is 
night. Here pass in review the dresses and 
clatter of all nations. Just now the pre- 
vailing colour is khaki, but there is always 
the background of black, for the faldetta 
is everywhere ; and then there are the 
shovel-hatted priests, who are not few, and 
the bearded Capuchins, and the sailor ashore 
for a holiday, and the white uniforms of 
his officers, with the scenic effect of palaces 
and balconies, all of which fascinate the 
onlooker on this real cinema of life. 

But he has only to take a step to vary 
the scene. Everything is so near in Val- 
letta. Tired with the glare let him enter 
the cool, shaded stillness of St. John's 

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A Scottish Picnic 



Church. At first his eyes can see nothing, 
so dazzled have they become with the blaze 
of sunshine. Then in the gloom of the 
great building he sees stationary figures 
every here and there. The faldettas of the 
women kneeling at prayer, looming indis- 
tinctly in the shadows, add to the sense of 
awe. Then, as he grows accustomed to the 
dimness, he begins to notice the gorgeous 
mosaic pavement on which he is standing, 
with its four hundred different armorial 
bearings, or he gazes at the rich altar, or 
walking across the nave, which is wider 
than that of St. Paul's Cathedral, he surveys 
the beautiful silver railings in the Chapel of 
Our Lady of Philermos, and smiles when he 
is told how Napoleon was cheated of his 
spoil by a coat of paint. When the French 
Emperor took possession of Malta he sought 
out its treasures, but the guardians of this 
precious silver railing made it look quite 
ordinary and worthless by a superficial 
daubing with paint, and it was passed by as 
of no account, just as often in life we miss 
seeing the consecrated in the commonplace. 
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A Scottish Picnic 



Rev. William Cowan, who is the poet 
laureate of our staff, has expressed so well 
in the following lines the spirit of the 
place, that I cannot do better than quote 
them from his book, Memories of Malta : 

ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, MALTA 

Enter, Oh stranger, through the curtained door ; 
Behold the altar girt with silver rail ; 
And tapestries which tell their sacred tale ; 
The tesselated splendour of the floor ; 

And chapels rich with treasure, where of yore 
In flowing robe, or clad in coat of mail, 
Repentant knights were wont their faults to vail 
'Neath high resolve to go and sin no more ! 

Deeming that Christian nations should unite 
In saving Christendom from that dark fear 
Which threatened Europe, zealous for the right, 

With consecrated shield and sword or spear, 
Beneath this roof they pledged themselves to fight 
For all that Christian manhood holds most dear. 

But there are many other sights with 
which to beguile the idle moments. The 
armoury of the Palace with its four thou- 
sand pieces links the present to the past ; 
and, as you tread these ancestral halls and 
see the motionless figures armed cap-a-pie 
keeping their eternal vigil, you feel that you 

192 



A Scottish Picnic 



are back in the company of the old knights 
and living in the classic days of Malta. 

Malta, however, has a more ancient pedi- 
gree, and as the convalescent soldier is able 
to widen his circuit he can soon find him- 
self in a much older world. The car will 
take him near to the Hypogeum, and as he 
descends to the rock-hewn vaults his fancy 
may hear the footsteps of a race whose 
weapons and implements were all of stone. 
Yet in their rude, rough way those stone- 
agers have done a service to the present 
generation. They have provided them with 
splendid bomb-proof shelters from the Zepps ! 

Haigar Kim is farther afield, but is worth 
the long drive to reach it. It means 
' ' Stone of Veneration ' ' ; and, as we stand in 
this centre of Baal worship, we might almost 
imagine ourselves back on the slopes of 
Carmel on that historic day when Elijah 
faced just similar stones and proved by 
miracle the vanity of their superstitious 
rites. Such ruins make more vivid the 
days of the Old Testament, and as we meet 
with the descendants of the ancient 
N 193 



A Scottish Picnic 



Phoenicians, and Canaanites of Scripture, 
the Bible stories of boyhood become more 
real. 

One great dome dominates the island, 
and somehow one never seems to lose sight 
of it. This is Musta Cathedral, and the 
dome is said to be the third largest in the 
world, its diameter being 118 feet. Its 
chief interest, in addition to the wonderful 
view secured from its summit, is the fact 
that it was built with the voluntary labour 
of the people of the village, who are now 
justly proud of their great church. On its 
steps you will always find some of our blue- 
jacketed convalescent lads, whose curiosity 
has been aroused by seeing its distant out- 
line, and who do not leave the island with- 
out a pilgrimage to its shrine. 

But it is of another pilgrimage I wish to 
tell you, and how it grew, and whither it 
went, and what it meant. 

THE PICNIC FOR SCOTTISH SOLDIERS 

A large number of our lads from Greenock, 
Glasgow, and the Clyde, who had passed 

194 



A Scottish Picnic 



through our hands in the hospital wards, 
were about to take farewell of us and go 
back to the fighting line, so we determined 
to give them one day which they might 
remember with pleasure among the hard 
ones that lay before them. Mrs. Mackinnon 
suggested a picnic, and at first we thought 
of inviting only the members of those regi- 
ments connected with the Clyde district. 
But everything has a tendency to grow 
quickly here. I hardly know myself in 
these days, with my study turned into a 
Departmental Headquarters and with a 
staff that has grown from one to eight. It 
reminds me of the " down-east " Canadian 
farmer who sent his son west to seek his 
fortune with the advice, " Young man, 
grow with the country.'* Well, our picinc 
became infected with this spirit of growth. 
There are large numbers of Scotsmen re- 
covering from the wounds of their first 
action, so we found that we could no longer 
limit our invitation, but had to include all 
Scottish soldiers. Then a company of 
Scottish nurses arrived on their way to 



A Scottish Picnic 



Serbia, and we thought that it would be 
nice for them to carry away a pleasant 
memory of Malta. Thus our picnic grew. 
Then we happened to visit the great camp 
at Ghain Tuffieha it does not pronounce 
as it spells and amongst the thousands 
there were many Scotsmen ; were they to 
be left out ? So our party grew and grew 
until on the eventful day it numbered 280. 
As befitted the occasion, the morning was 
Scotch. We had our first rain. Not the 
soft kindly drizzle of the West Coast, but 
something that reminded me of Greenock 
on a certain August day two years ago. It 
was complimentary of the elements, but 
there are compliments that one would 
rather dispense with. However, Malta 
cannot frown for long, and soon the sun 
was blazing again, the dust was laid and 
there was an attractive freshness in the air. 
The clouds had after all been weighted with 
blessing, as is the way with most clouds, 
if only we have the patience to wait. Long 
before the hour of departure a large crowd 
had gathered at King Edward's Avenue. 

196 



A Scottish Picnic 



There also stood the forty brakes and 
carozzin which is the plural for carozze. 
Some of the guests were on crutches, but 
looking very happy ; others had an arm in 
a sling. The majority were once more in 
full khaki, which meant that they were 
ready to face the foe again. A happier 
crowd one could not wish to see, and their 
lightheartedness betokened the 

TRUE SPIRIT OF OUR BRITISH SOLDIER. 

The enemy has failed to damp that. It 
took much arranging to get them all seated, 
and then our long procession started off. 
From the distance, as it wended its way up 
hill and down dale, it might have seemed 
like a great funeral, were it not for the peals 
of hearty laughter and the outburst of song. 

In order to make the drive instructive, a 
neat little leaflet had been prepared de- 
scribing the sights of interest on the way. 
Malta is full of history. In fact at every 
turn one's imagination is carried back to 
the past, and you seem to live in a bygone 
age. Perhaps nowhere more so than when 
197 



A Scottish Picnic 



you catch a glimpse of St. Paul's Bay, with 
the little island so accurately described in the 
book of Acts. Then we laboriously climbed 
the hill to Citta Vecchia. Passing through 
the walled gates of this ancient town one 
feels as if the twentieth century were left 
far behind in our return to the past. Then 
at the other side of the hill, after nine miles 
of a delightful drive, Boschetto suddenly 
unfolded its charms beneath us. On the 
left, in a commanding position, was seen 
Verdala Palace. The dignity of age rests 
well upon its solid masonry. The Grand 
Master Verdale built it in 1588. To-day it 
is modernised, and makes a fitting home for 
His Excellency the Governor. Beneath in 
the valley, down to which the Palace 
gardens slope, is a veritable Eden, just one 
little sheltered patch of green and shade in 
this parched land. Value is to a large 
extent a matter of contrast, hence Boschetto 
is a paradise to the Maltese. It might pass 
almost unnoticed in many a picturesque 
corner of the home land. My good fortune 
followed. It seems to be my happy lot in 

198 



A Scottish Picnic 



life just to meet the right man at the right 
time. To how many such helpers have I 
been indebted ! Such a one is Mr. Chalmers 
of the firm of Messrs. Blackley like his 
senior partner Mr. Morris, he has grudged 
no pains to facilitate our work for the 
wounded. On the occasion of the picnic 
he excelled himself. Under the shadow of 
the trees he had screened off with large 
Union Jacks a sheltered space where long 
tables were erected loaded with tempting 
eatables. I can reassure you that 

THE REPAST WAS WORTHY OF GREENOCK. 

The inroad of nearly 300 was an event in 
this secluded part of the island. His Ex- 
cellency, the Governor, Lord Methuen, 
accompanied by his daughter, the Hon. 
Seymour Methuen, came to greet us. With 
much arranging we got some photographic 
views taken ; but, alas, like those of our 
hall last week, they have turned out a 
failure, except two taken while at table. 

When at last we were seated at table, 
and had begun in the orthodox way of 
199 



A Scottish Picnic 



Scotsmen by singing the second Paraphrase, 
and with prayer, His Excellency made a 
very happy speech, dwelling with tact on 
the prominent part Scotsmen were taking 
in the terrible struggle. I had an oppor- 
tunity later of telling what Greenock was 
doing for the wounded, and I am glad that 
this has been reported in the local press. 

After our meal games followed, and there 
was a general saunter round the place. It 
was now that one of the most extraordinary 
results of our picnic came about. There 
were cases of brothers meeting one another, 
the one not knowing that the other had 
been wounded or was in Malta, this being 
the first and only gathering of Scottish 
soldiers. In the crowd I ran against 
Stanley Lee of South Street, Greenock, who 
was in an Australian regiment. He did 
not know that his brother, Sergeant Lee, 
had been wounded and was on the island. 
Unfortunately it was too late for them now 
to meet, as the sergeant had returned to 
England. I heard also of four young 
fellows from the same workshop in Glasgow 

200 



A Scottish Picnic 



meeting. They were all unaware that any 
of them had been in Malta. 

All too quickly the shades of night began 
to fall, and we gathered once more in a 
large group and sang the Doxology. As I 
looked up and saw a star suddenly shine 
through the blue that was deepening into 
black, and looked on that mass of upturned, 
manly faces, and caught the swell of their 
song as it blended into a mighty chorus, 
" Praise God from Whom all blessings flow/' 
I felt within the surge of a triumphant 
emotion. These men were bound to win, 
for theirs was the confidence of David, 
" The Lord of Hosts is with us ; the God of 
Jacob is our refuge." 



201 



CHAPTER X 



UNDER CANVAS 

MY title does not convey the whole 
truth, only half of me was really 
under canvas my better half; 
the remainder was lodged in a hut ; but all 
this needs explanation. 

To most people, I suppose, Malta is 
thought of as a mere dot, or one big rock. 
I can see that this idea underlies the 
thoughts of many of my correspondents, 
who seem to think that I am within ten 
minutes of every hospital. But there are 
distances here as in other places, and I 
have just been inspecting some of the far- 
away camps hence my title and my story. 

Now, I am not going to mention names 
for various reasons : first, to reassure the 
Censor that no enemy, after reading this, 

202 



Under Canvas 



will be any the wiser as to where the camps 
are which I have visited ; and secondly, to 
spare your tongues, for the names are jaw- 
breaking, and I do not wish to cause you 
personal injury. It will be sufficient 
to know that they were " somewhere in 
Malta." 

Although I am a true-blue Presbyterian, 
some of the duties of a bishop are falling 
to my lot ; my flock is a scattered one, how 
scattered I did not fully realise until I took 
this tour. All our chaplains are keen and 
hard-working, but there are some corners, 
and those big ones, which even yet we have 
not turned, and as the responsibility of 
seeing that our soldiers are ministered to 
even in out-of-the-way places rests on me, 
I resolved to quiet my uneasy conscience by 
going to see for myself. 

From one far-away camp a strange mes- 
sage reached me. It came from a wounded 
soldier who was lying there. He said he 
was glad, for the sake of the half-dozen 
Presbyterians in his tent, that the Senior 
Chaplain was coming, but all the men would 
203 



Under Canvas 



be Presbyterians if the Chaplainess came 
too. So the Chaplainess packed her bag 
along with mine, and on a fine Saturday 
morning we left Valletta for our week-end 
in the country. 

A very comfortable motor had been put 
at our disposal by the Government, so there 
was the zest of a holiday as well as the com- 
fortable sense of doing one's duty, as we 
whizzed and tooted along the narrow 
roads. 

Of sight-seeing as yet we have done very 
little, leaving it to the happier time when 
the first chimes of peace will sound cessa- 
tion to our labours ; yet if one carries open 
eyes almost every object here is a " sight. " 
As we dived down into the valleys with 
their patchwork of fertile fields we caught 
glimpses of peasant life. Here we meet 
the original race in all the parity of their 
ancient Mediterranean blood. Last night 
I had a long talk with a Maltese officer who 
is an authority on the history of the island, 
and we discussed the sources of this unique 
people. A common belief is that they are 

204 



Under Canvas 



the old Canaanites, whom Joshua drove out 
of Jericho, and certainly there is much to 
favour this supposition, as they are cer- 
tainly allied with the Phoenicians. My 
friend, however, urged a more ancient ped- 
igree, and tried to prove from skull measure- 
ments, as well as ancient inscriptions, that 
here we have the direct descendants of the 
" Mediterranean Man." He flourished cer- 
tainly 4,000 years B.C., and if age confers 
honour on a race the Maltese have that 
claim. Like every people they have to be 
understood to discern their virtues, and the 
more one knows of them the more one dis- 
covers qualities to admire and honour. The 
passing tourist, who forms his opinions from 
the Carozze men, who cheat him, deceives 
himself and does discredit to his hosts. A 
patient, industrious people, who carry on a 
stubborn fight with Nature, is the verdict 
of the stranger who views their countryside. 
I would like to take some of those who talk 
wildly about the un-reclaimable land in our 
Scottish Highlands to the stone deserts in 
Malta, which have been made " to blossom 
205 



Under Canvas 



as the rose " by pure industry. The very 
soil in some places has been imported, and 
every inch of ground round the rocks, that 
are too big to be moved, is cultivated with 
care. If we followed the example of the 
Maltese our waste lands would support a 
teeming population. 

The people in the country differ from 
those in the towns. They are simple and 
retiring, and many, I am told, spend their 
whole life without ever having been in the 
streets of Valletta. Here we saw the heavy- 
limbed oxen at work, and the women with 
their hoes bending over their task. We had 
got far from the tinkle of the goat bells, 
which are heard in the streets. We dashed 
through little towns whose lanes were built 
on the zig-zag principle of the modern 
trench, and perhaps for the same purpose 
of defence. At last, after all the sensation 
of a rough day at sea, we slid down the last 
hill, swung round the last curve, and there 
stretched out before us a great array of 
tents. 



206 



Under Canvas 



A HOSPITABLE WELCOME 

The kindness received during our week- 
end visit to this camp is beyond words. 
Officers and Sisters have made it a memor- 
able one. The home of the soldiers is to be 
found in a great Y.M.C.A. tent, which has 
been erected in the middle of the camp. 
This tent is but a part of the wonderful man 
who is its centre. It seems only a short 
time ago since one morning there called for 
me in Valletta a young man whose person- 
ality impressed me from the start of our 
acquaintance. He had j ust arrived with a 
large tent, and I was able to put him in 
touch with the right officers. Now all 
know him, and in that short time he has 
won in a remarkable way the esteem and 
confidence of all, from His Excellency the 
Governor to the private soldier, who has 
found in him not merely a sympathetic 
but a practical friend and helper. It does 
credit to the Y.M.C.A. authorities that they 
discovered the exceptional talents which 
Mr. Wilson possesses for the work to which 
207 



Under Canvas 



they have set him. The officers, Sisters, 
and men in this great camp told me pri- 
vately how much Mr. Wilson's coming had 
meant for them all, and there was universal 
sorrow when a telegram was received 
yesterday sending him to the Front. He is 
certainly the right man for that more 
heroic venture, but I doubt the wisdom of 
the Y.M.C.A. in taking him away from a 
centre where his influence for good has 
become so great. He possesses that subtle 
blending of sympathy, kindness, and firm- 
ness. He invites trust because there is 
strength and judgment in his deci- 
sions. 

The officers had got up an " afternoon 
tea " for us, and in their quarters a long 
table was spread. The Sisters who nurse 
in the tent hospitals were invited, and a 
very happy party we all made. I found 
many Irish, several Scottish, and some 
Canadian doctors on the Staff. They natur- 
ally feel a bit shut out in this distant camp, 
but the isolation has compensations. The 
air was delightful, and the view of rugged 

208 




II 

H J 

15 



Under Canvas 



cliffs and deep blue sea was restful after 
the narrow streets of Valletta. 

The Sisters' quarters are a little way 
from the main camp. A Scottish lady of 
course is Matron, and one feels proud of 
one's country on being introduced to Miss 
M'Dougall. She is one of those matrons of 
whom you are not afraid, and yet she rules 
with a firm hand ; but she has that touch 
of sympathy which evokes the loyalty and 
love of those on her staff. 

One of the latter I must mention, for it is 
well that those at home should know some- 
thing about the nurses to whose hands their 
sons are entrusted. This lady is also of 
course Scottish, although born in Canada ; 
but she can speak Gaelic. So wise in 
judgment and shrewd in her knowledge of 
human nature, and withal possessed of 
such a big heart, that the needs of others 
seem to be her one thought ! Such is this 
Miss M'Gregor, and such are some of those 
brave women who, in their self-sacrificing 
service, show to the world the true charm 
of noble womanhood. From such hands 
o 209 



Under Canvas 



our laddies receive a mother's care, as well 
as the skill of the latest scientific training. 
The Sisters sleep in bell tents ; a larger 
marquee had just been erected in their 
grounds to contain seven beds, and Mrs. 
Mackinnon had the honour of opening it 
and being its first occupant. So now you 
will understand the enigma of my first 
sentence. I had a bed in one of the officers' 
huts, so that my title " Under Canvas " 
does not really apply to me, but to my 
better half ! 

A SUNDAY IN CAMP 

In the blistering heat of August I mis- 
called the weather of Malta. True, these 
days are not so very far away ; only last 
week we had a sirocco, which caused every 
one to perspire in the same old midsummer 
fashion. But Sunday made up for it all. 
There was plenty of sunshine, but the 
breeze seemed to have the suspicion of a 
nip in it, so much so that some of our 
Argylls in a confidential moment hinted to 
Mrs. Mackinnon that singlets would be a 

2IO 



Under Canvas 



great boon, and at this present moment 
she is busy purchasing some for them. 
Possibly if the nip becomes a little more 
acute the need may be intensified. I know 
how quick Greenockians are to take hints, 
perhaps they might give this a thought. 
Up to the present the very idea of heavier 
clothing has been an oppression, but the 
climate, like other things in the Eastern 
Mediterranean, is a bit fickle. 

The morning parade service was con- 
ducted by the Anglican chaplain. It took 
place in the open, the clergyman and officers 
alone being on a sheltered stage. It was 
an inspiring sight to look into the faces of a 
thousand men. Many were about to go 
back to the firing line, and would be spend- 
ing the following Sunday face to face with 
death. I may say in passing that the 
relations between the Presbyterian and 
Anglican chaplains are most friendly. 
Naturally where there are many camps 
and hospitals, and many services to arrange, 
there must be a brotherly spirit of give and 
take, and so far all difficulties have been 

211 



Under Canvas 



surmounted in a spirit of kindly co-opera- 
tion. 

After service, as there were a few hours 
to spare, and the morning is not a good 
time for visiting the tents, Mrs. Mackinnon 
and I were tempted to take a walk. I am 
not going to say how many miles it was to 
St. Paul's Bay. To a Greenock minister 
whose work has developed the right kind 
of muscles it means just half the distance 
that it is to others. The invigorating air, 
the bright sunshine, and the interesting 
objects en route made the way seem short. 
On the hillsides we saw cave dwellings 
still inhabited as they were four thousand 
years ago. Then we descended to one 
of the few real beaches in Malta. Here 
bays are still called creeks, and as we sat 
where the wavelets broke on the sand the 
scene in the book of Acts was vividly pic- 
tured to us. 

' ' When it was day they knew not the land ; 
but discovered a certain creek with a shore, 
into which they were minded, if it were 
possible, to thrust in the ship. And falling 

212 



Under Canvas 



into a place where two seas met, they ran 
the ship aground. " 

In front of us was clearly visible the place 
where the " two seas met." A little island 
divides the waters at the entrance of the 
bay, and round this the waves swirl in a 
storm, and their meeting churns the surface 
into foam. 

A monument marks the traditional place 
of the landing, and there is every reason to 
credit the site. As I sat there I felt the 
centuries bridged. The eyes that had 
looked on the vision of the Crucified had 
looked also on this spot, which is little 
changed. There was a sermon in the 
thought. 

That afternoon we went through the 
hospitals, and had a word and gift for all 
our Scotch lads. Also in the tents I had 
some delightful chats with men whose 
thoughts naturally turned to the home- 
land. Here again I met Sergeant Lee's 
brother, of South Street, also Sergeant 
Leggatt, whom I had last seen at St. David's, 
while Mrs. Mackinnon was surrounded with 
213 



Under Canvas 



a crowd of those who when nearer Valletta 
used to frequent the Reading Room and 
enjoy the Greenock teas. The afternoon 
passed all too quickly. 

At 6.30 p.m. I conducted the service in 
the big Y.M.C.A. tent, and the sight was 
an inspiring one. Seats were provided for 
about 500, but every inch of standing 
ground was also occupied, and round the 
doors as far as one could see the men 
crowded. I thought, as I looked into those 
earnest faces, of the loafers on our streets 
at home to whom the church bells mean 
nothing. What a rebuke to them there was 
in that audience if only they could have 
seen it ! One's pride in our soldiers in- 
creases daily. To them religion is a reality, 
and if only these men are spared to return 
to the homeland the day of the moral weak- 
ling will be past. 

But there, I have exhausted my space, 
and not even finished the story of a day. 
I would like to have told you of some of 
the officers I met in the Mess. One, a major 
interested me greatly, and we talked on 

214 



Under Canvas 



long after the lamp had burned itself out 
and left us in darkness. He is one of the 
few old regular officers left, and had been 
all through the retreat from Mons, and the 
subsequent battles. Our conversation left 
me very optimistic. He said in decisive 
tones that Germany was already hope- 
lessly beaten. On this consolation I slept 
soundly. On the following morning the 
motor was waiting, and we said good-bye 
to our new friends in that isolated camp 
with feelings of gratitude for all their 
kindness. 



215 



CHAPTER XI 



CHRISTMAS IN MALTA 

CHRISTMAS has been casting, not its 
shadow, but its sunshine in ad- 
vance over the wards of our hos- 
pitals. The ceilings were the first to catch 
its glow. From their heights festoons of 
crimson-and- white and every rainbow hue 
began to hang their graceful loops, and the 
men who could look up from their beds 
caught the gladness of their message. 

CHRISTMAS AS A HEALER 

The reflection of Christmas first crept 
over the wan faces of the sufferers as they 
watched the festoons grow. There was 
something now to look at, where there 
had been bare walls before. Interest for 
the eye is a factor in healing that is often 
overlooked. 

216 



Christmas in Malta 



For instance, the other day I was in one 
of our hospitals, the windows of which 
look out on the Grand Harbour. As I 
stood by the bedside of a wounded man 
the view attracted me. A fringe of curling 
surf lined the breakwater where the Mediter- 
ranean swell, like some other things, was 
kept at arm's length from the sheltered 
waters within. At that moment a big 
battleship was making her way slowly out- 
ward. With her snake-like tail, armed with 
its two stings, she suggested an ocean 
reptile as she crept through the waters, 
and she almost seemed to twist her trail- 
ing body as she swung through the narrow 
channel. 

" You cannot weary here," I remarked 
thoughtlessly. The man's bed, which was 
on the opposite side of the ward, faced the 
window, and for the moment I imagined 
he also could see the harbour. " Sky and 
ceiling is all that I have had to look at 
for these weeks," he responded. I lowered 
my head to the height of his pillow, and 
realised the truth of his words. If his bed 
217 



Christmas in Malta 



had been raised just a few inches he would 
have had a reserved seat in one of the most 
picturesque and natural cinemas of the 
world. 

Christmas has given our patients some- 
thing else to look at than bare walls. In 
fact, these can hardly be seen now, so 
covered are they with decorations. Mottoes, 
festoons, crowns, bells, and a hundred other 
old fancies have been worked out of the 
same material ordinary tissue paper of 
every colour, until the stock in Malta has 
run short. The lettering of white wool was 
in some cases glued on to cardboard by 
jam instead of gum, or by the remains of 
certain milk puddings, which some of the 
men said made excellent sticking paste. 

In one ward I was impressed by the 
unity of design. Nothing was out of keep- 
ing with the dominant chaste idea. There 
were no mottoes hung haphazard, no over- 
elaboration of one section of the room to 
the disadvantage of the other. In fact, 
only one central inscription was allowed, 
and that was " God Save the King." On 

218 



Christmas in Malta 



enquiring for the master mind that had 
the strength of character to impress his 
individual design on all the others, I 
found it beneath the bed-clothes. In one 
cot lay a man badly wounded, but his 
brains were unimpaired, and from the 
blankets he dictated his commands to the 
willing workers who had recognised his 
genius. Ris absorption in his work made 
him forget his pain, and the Christmas 
joy had no purer reflection than on the 
face of the artist, as from his pillow he 
surveyed with admiration the working out 
of his own designs. 

In another ward the chief adornment 
was an excellent model of the Lord Nelson, 
made in cardboard by one of the crew. 
Perhaps the busiest man in Malta that day 
was his Excellency the Governor, Lord 
Methuen, as he sped in his car from hospital 
to hospital, with words of appreciation and 
encouragement. Next to him should be 
ranked the nurses, doctors, and chaplains, 
amongst whom there were no idle hands. 



219 



Christmas in Malta 



GIFTS 

Thanks to the hampers received we were 
able to give a present to fully three hundred 
Scottish soldiers. Mrs. Mackinnon had 
these done up in suitable small parcels, and 
Sassenachs wished that they had been born 
in the Land of the Open Hand. 

Many a fair Santa Claus had filled the 
socks she had made with something to eat 
as well as to wear. For there were little 
boxes of chocolate hidden in the toes. 
Here was something to warm the heart as 
well as the feet and brace the courage. 
Pinned on one pair was a slip of paper with 
this verse written in a girlish hand : 

When ye are hidin' ahint the rocks, 
Think o' the lassie wha made these socks. 

Tea outside ! It sounds strange for 
Christmas. Yet on the balconies of most 
of the hospitals long tables were spread, 
fairy lights hanging from above cast their 
glow over plates filled with cakes ; and the 
doctors, traitors for once to their own 

220 



Christmas in Malta 



profession, actually assisted in handing to 
their patients what on other occasions they 
would have forbidden with a frown. But 
then, that is the way of Christmas, and its 
truce seems to be extended not merely to 
the minds and hearts of men, but to certain 
internal organs, which usually are only too 
ready to prove querulous on the slightest 
excuse. At all events, I was told by 
several Sisters that -temperatures were 
not up on the day succeeding. 

MALTA WEATHER 

The best and most appreciated gift was 
that sent to Malta by the " Clerk of the 
Weather/' From a series of delightful 
days he chose the choicest. The clear 
atmosphere, bringing near objects miles 
away ; the bright sunshine, that warmed 
but did not overheat ; the suspicion of a 
nip in the air all made Malta a different 
place from those August days, when every 
limb was weighted, and the only place to 
escape from liquidation was in a cold water 
bath, and even then, though submerged, 

221 



Christmas in Malta 



one had a grave misgiving that he was 
perspiring still. 

The weather had its own Christmas 
decorations, and I never saw finer. It 
reserved the best for the sunset hour ; then 
Nature began to hang up her fairy lights. 
What colouring there was in the sky ! The 
deep blue merging into dark purple towards 
the horizon, and the sea, as if vieing with 
the heavens, changed to green. I never 
suspected Nature of being a suffragette 
before, until she brought out her Christmas 
ornaments and advertised her sentiments 
in colour. Only for a few minutes she held 
us spellbound ; then she rang down the 
curtain of night. But now her real illu- 
minations were only beginning. I have 
seen stars in the dim distance before. That 
moment she brought them near at hand. 
Looking down from one's roof that night 
at the lights of the town shining so clearly, 
at the lights on the harbour which made 
the waters seem alive as dghaisas, like 
fireflies, skimmed the surface of the sea ; 
and then, looking up from man's limitations 

222 



Christmas in Malta 



at God's lights, one felt that the symbol for 
Christmas was rightly a star. 

Later on we returned to Valletta Hospital 
to be introduced to Father Christmas. Very 
patriarchal he was as he marched through 
the wards, and his violin solo took the 
audience in one of them by storm. His 
Scottish reel made the men without legs 
painfully realise their loss. There was 
something very familiar about his accent 
when he spoke, though I do not think that 
even the United Free Church people of 
Banchory would have recognised their 
minister. They may be assured that Rev. 
Wm. Cowan is putting his talents to splen- 
did service for the welfare of the wounded, 
and in his own parish of hospitals has won 
the hearts of the men under his charge. 
"Padre," the soldiers' term, is the best 
word for the chaplain. It expresses that 
quality which elicits the confidences of the 
men. Strange and touching are the stories 
we often have to listen to, and sometimes 
the services we are asked to perform are 
most confidential and delicate. I have been 
223 



Christmas in Malta 



very fortunate in having as colleagues men 
who have proved genuine " Padres/' and 
we only wish that our expressed desire for 
the return of Rev. Donald Campbell had 
been gratified. His whole-hearted services 
here are not forgotten. Just yesterday I 
met a New Zealander who had returned to 
Malta wounded for the second time, and 
whose first enquiry was for the Greenock 
Padre who had been so kind to him at 
Floriana in June. 

THE SCOTTISH TEAROOM 

I could take you through endless wards 
where men are fighting pain with the grim 
determination of the battlefield ; but there 
is one centre of goodwill which you should 
know about, if not take an interest in. 
Scotland has been belying in Malta the 
character which those who are ignorant 
of her give her. She will be known in far 
Australia and New Zealand as long as the 
tale of Malta's hospitals are retold as the 
Land of the Open Hand. The Mother 
Country has revealed a mother's heart and 

224 



Christmas in Malta 



care towards her sons of Empire. Six 
months ago our Scottish hall was opened in 
Valletta, and every day has been a Christ- 
mas there, as far as gifts are concerned. 
A table has been spread daily for the 
hungry boys, who, having found their limbs 
again, have also suddenly re-discovered 
their appetites. 

If you know what enteric is, then you 
will know what it means to be hungry, and 
you will not consider two teas in an after- 
noon an extravagance the one in the 
hospital, made by an orderly, and the one 
in this " hame frae hame," where ladies 
handle the teapot with that gracious skill 
which adds an indefinable flavour to the 
tea. 

They come into this little hall from the 
ends of the earth. The Australian, with 
his easy stride ; the New Zealander, who is 
a fine compromise between the Scotch and 
colonial character ; the Newfoundlander, 
thick-set and square-shouldered ; the Irish- 
man, who is an inch taller since the Dublin 
Fusiliers said with their rifles and bayonets 
p 225 



Christmas in Malta 



to Bulgaria " Stand back" ; the English, 
the Welsh, and our own laddies ; and not 
least the dark-skinned sons of India, who 
drink their tea, and who must needs march 
to the kitchen and salaam to the ladies by 
way of thanks. From 400 to 500 a day 
they have come, and Scotland bids them 
welcome. A cup of tea is not much in 
itself, but an essay could be written on all 
that is inside and around it ; and so it is 
always Christmas Day in this little hall. 

CHRISTMAS TRAGEDY 

But the season did not pass without a 
reminder that the angels' song was falling 
on deafened ears. Into our service on the 
Sunday night walked twenty dusky Cinga- 
lese. Their ship, the Ville de la Ciotat, had 
just been submarined by the enemy. They 
gathered round me at the close, and told 
me their story. This Christmas they will 
remember not for its joy and goodwill, but 
for its hatred and inhuman cruelty. In- 
stead of the angels' song, they heard that 
day the mocking laughter of men who 

226 



Christmas in Malta 



jeered at their despair. Without a warn- 
ing their ship was struck as they were 
sitting at a meal. At 15 knots an hour 
she plunged to her watery grave, and in 
those few minutes when hands gripped 
hurriedly the lowering tackle of the boats 
all rushed on deck. One of the life-boats 
filled with women and children capsized, 
and the occupants were thrown into the 
water and drowned. 

One of the men told me how he jumped 
into a boat which immediately afterwards 
was smashed against the ship's side. Grasp- 
ing a rope he hauled himself once more on 
deck, just in time to be carried with the 
final plunge of the ship into the waves, from 
which he was rescued at last by friendly 
hands. In suspicious tones they spoke of 
two foreign steamers which had been in 
their vicinity shortly before the attack took 
place. In high praise they referred to the 
captain of a British ship, which came to 
their rescue while the wake of the submarine 
was still plainly visible ; and on this boat 
they were brought to Malta. And after a 
227 



Christmas in Malta 



meal these twenty Cingalese sought out the 
Presbyterian Church, and were in time to 
join in our evening service. They were sad 
at heart, for they had lost nearly half their 
comrades ; but, as I looked into their 
swarthy faces, I felt proud that British 
khaki clothed such heroes. 

NEW YEAR 

The celebration of New Year's Day was 
different. It was more purely Scottish. 
"It is a capital arrangement, " said one of 
the garrison officers to me. " On Christ- 
mas Day I turn out a Scottish guard to look 
after the other chaps, and on New Year 
we set the English to watch the Scottish/' 

There was a touch of home about New 
Year's Day, with its morning church service 
and opportunity for good wishes. For 
night we had arranged a big social for the 
St. Andrew's unit of the R.A.M.C. In 
passing let me pay a deserved tribute to 
this splendid body of men. I have come 
much in contact with them, and know how 
exacting their work is. " Orderly ! 

228 



Christmas in Malta 



orderly ! " How that call is for ever 
echoing through our wards, as some poor 
fellow in pain calls for help. Also I find 
that this corps are apt to be overlooked. 
Hence we reserved New Year's night for 
them. The hall was packed, and we had 
a real Scottish soiree. Our youngest and 
most versatile chaplain, Rev. Charles 
McEchern of Tighnabrualich, was in his 
happiest mood, and with song and story he 
helped to make the evening a merry one. 
" I wish we could have a whole evening of 
him" was what I heard one man remark- 
ing. What choruses we had! Staff Ser- 
geant Lee taught us all in five minutes how 
to imitate the bagpipes; and I am quite 
sure even a hundred pipers an' a' could 
never give such a startling blast or weird 
drone as lips and lungs produced that 
night. Too quickly the hours sped, and 
the strains of " Auld Lang Syne " fell on 
the midnight air, and the little bit of 
Scotland resolved itself into Malta once 
again. 



229 



Christmas in Malta 



VISITING THE ARGYLLS 

Now I have a feeling that I am not 
getting into the right swing of this letter. 
There are many causes, the hour is late, 
and the day has been a busy one ; but, when 
I tell you that it has been spent in visiting 
the Argylls in the various hospitals, I know 
I have secured your interest without literary 
wiles, and your pardon for slipshod ex- 
pressions and heavy sentences. 

About thirty Argylls have just come in, 
so I have devoted a day in trying to see 
them. Let me tell you how I got on. I 
started in the motor-car immediately after 
lunch. I had a call to make at Verdala 
Palace, which is near Boschetto of picnic 
fame, and my Jehu seemed to realise that I 
had to put thirty visits into the afternoon, 
for we took the corners of narrow streets at 
perilous angles, and when we did get a bit 
of straight road we hardly seemed to touch 
the surface. After leaving Verdala Palace 
we had to cross nearly half the island to 
reach St. Patrick's Camp. Skirting Citta 

230 



Christmas in Malta 



Vecchia, we dived down into numerous 
little villages, bringing momentary con- 
sternation into groups of children, mule- 
drivers with their carts, and goats. But 
my driver, I saw, had a good eye for the 
fraction of an inch, so I gave faith its oppor- 
tunity. 

We drew up at St. Patrick's Camp. The 
first Argyll I found was Kemp, who was 
quickly recovering from his encounter with 
a Turkish " coalbox." He offered to be my 
guide in my search for the other Argylls, 
and was of great assistance. In tent H 3 I 
found also M 'Leod, who seemed in the best 
of spirits despite the bullet wound in his 
arm. How brave our boys are ! Next I 
spoke to Donelly, M'Gilvray, and Leimon, 
about whom their friends need have no 
anxiety. All seemed glad to see me, and 
the few Telegraphs I had soon disappeared. 
Then we crossed over to another row of 
tents, and I had a nice chat with Richard 
Hamilton, who was lying in bed. He is 
doing well, though somewhat weak. He 
had been buried in earth by a shell. From 
231 



Christmas in Malta 



there we crossed over to visit Gray, who 
is able to go about. Then we walked to 
the very top of the camp and found M 'Cart- 
ney and N. Adam. The former, who was 
a chum of David M'Dougall in the trenches, 
had been told that I would be sure to look 
him up when he arrived in Malta, so he 
was expecting me, and I am glad that I 
acted up to expectations. After a little 
search we discovered II. Robertson, who 
is moving about, and at last Simpson, who 
has been flitting from one tent to another. 
His eye is getting quickly better. So with 
regard to the Argylls at St. Patrick's I can 
give a good report. Kemp accompanied 
me back to my car, carrying my bag, which 
was now nearly emptied of its contents, 
and I started with a farewell wave to H 3, 
where the Argylls were standing. 

My next camp was St. David's. We had 
a cross-country journey to it, through 
lanes that would make Devonshire ones 
seem thoroughfares in comparison. It was 
lucky we met no cart or mule on the way 
lucky for them I mean, and after many 

232 



Christmas in Malta 



sharp turnings we slowed down as we ran 
into St. David's. We take a paternal 
interest in this camp ; for it is here that 
we have pitched our tent. I can remember 
it in its babyhood, with its swaddling 
clothes of mud and little else. Now it is 
a "castrum" worthy of Roman soldiers. 
Fine roads have been made through it, 
well paved and firm ; and most wonderful 
of all, it has prettily laid out gardens with 
flowers blooming and vegetables ripening. 
Truly, the desert has been made to blossom 
as a rose. In its centre stands the United 
Free Church Guild Tent, a stately ornament 
of canvas. Useful, too, for within are large 
numbers of men sitting at tables reading 
or playing games. In this camp I found 
T. Fisher. He also will soon be convales- 
cent. 

Then I boarded my car again, and went 
on to All Saints' Camp. Here a consider- 
able search was required before I discovered 
W. R. Stewart. He was looking splendid. 
Now the car was turned homewards, but 
we stopped at St. Andrew's Hospital to 
233 



Christmas in Malta 



make two calls. Here I found J. Currie of 
the Argylls, who was down with enteric. 
But it is a mild case, and gives no cause for 
alarm. A friend of Rev. Donald Camp- 
bell's lay in another block, named Millar, 
and I dropped in to give him a word of 
cheer. He is progressing slowly. 

When I regained my car I looked at my 
watch with a start. How the afternoon 
flies out here, especially when you are 
talking to Greenockians ! At that moment 
I was timed to speak at a meeting some 
miles away. But I had faith in my Jehu, 
and he did not disappoint me. I arrived 
at the Scotch Church Hall in Sliema in the 
nick of time. The chairman was just going 
to announce that I had not come when I 
walked in. Here the glow of the New Year 
lingered. Rev. W. Cowan was giving a 
Scotch social to his parishioners. He had 
brought them from the different hospitals 
in his parish to that hall, and he had com- 
mandeered my wife to make tea. About 
120 Scottish wounded were present. A 
good tea had been provided, and the men 

234 



Christmas in Malta 



looked too happy to be bored with much 
speechifying, so I told them just what you 
have all been thinking, how proud you were 
of all of them. 

Now I am afraid that I have bored you 
with these commonplace incidents of a 
chaplain's day, which is just like so many 
others. Only I know that to some it will not 
seem commonplace, for it has reference to 
their brave sons ; and I wish those at home 
to feel what I have told the men here, that 
while they are in Malta they are to look upon 
me as a " Padre " in the realsense, one who 
will father them, and on Mrs. Mackinnon, 
to whom I find they tell their needs more 
readily than to me, as one who will stand 
in the place of their mother. They are a 
family we are proud of, noble fellows ! 

AN ARGYLL'S FUNERAL 

Yet %ry report for that is what my 
letter has become is not to be without its 
sad note. Private Gordon Smith (2947) 
died of his wounds at St. Elmo Hospital 
on Saturday, a few hours after being ad- 
235 



Christmas in Malta 



milled. His home address is 14, Serpen- 
tine Walk, Greenock. The first announce- 
ment I got of his arrival was the news of 
his death. He had been badly wounded. 
His funeral took place on Sunday after- 
noon, and though it was not my turn for 
funeral duty that week I arranged to take 
it, feeling that his friends in Greenock might 
prefer that one from their own town should 
lay their hero to rest. 

I closed my Bible Class half an hour 
sooner, and drove to the cemetery in good 
time. As I stood robed at the gate my 
thoughts were in Greenock. I felt that I 
must be the eyes for the friends there. I 
hope to send you shortly a photo of Pieta, 
where now more than one Greenockian lies. 
Then from the Porte de Bomb there broke 
on the quietness of the Sunday afternoon 
the beat of a drum, slow, mournful ; and 
soon I could see coming down the tree- 
shaded street the gun carriage with its 
burden. As the procession turned the 
corner and moved to the gate, and the 
soldiers took their stand with rifles reversed, 

236 



Christmas in Malta 



I stepped forth to meet my fellow towns- 
man, glad that Greenock had its represen- 
tative that day. Silently his comrades in 
arms bore him to his last resting-place. The 
Presbyterian service allows latitude, and so 
there were many things in my prayers that 
moment which the bystanders might not 
understand ; but He whose eye rests on 
the home by the Clyde, as well as on the 
carnage of war, will answer with His own 
consolations the petitions by the open grave. 
So we left this heroic son of Greenock with 
the echo of the parting volleys, and the 
Last Post, in our ears ; and he left with us 
a bequest, the greatest of all heritages, the 
example of noble self-sacrifice and heroic 
achievement. 



237 



CHAPTER XII 



RELIGIOUS WORK AMONGST THE WOUNDED 

WHAT about the ultimate results of 
all the war work in Malta ? I 
do not now refer to the mere 
mending of limbs, the giving of a good time 
to the patients while they sojourned here. 
That has of course absorbed a great deal of 
the energy of the workers on the island. 
But though this phase of local activities is 
the one naturally most evident, has there 
not been something accomplished which is 
less transient ? I think so. There has 
been Empire building of an enduring kind. 
The fact that nearly one hundred thou- 
sand youths at the most impressionable 
period in their lives, with spiritual instincts 
quickened by the perils of the battlefield, 
have had time for meditation forced upon 

238 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

them, has not been lost sight of by those 
whose special care is the development of 
Christian character. 

The men who have passed through our 
hospital wards have come into touch with 
spiritual influences, and as we part with 
many of our patients, who go back to rejoin 
their regiments, the farewell hand-grip, the 
word of gratitude bespeak the stirring of the 
soul's deeper feeling. 

HARMONY 

His Excellency the Governor, in his fore- 
word to this volume, has very wisely em- 
phasised two striking features of the 
work in Malta, harmony and co-operation. 
This has been true of every department, and 
particularly so of religious work. The 
Senior Chaplain of the Church of England, 
Rev. M. Tobias, who has now gone to the 
Front, was a man of such breadth of sym- 
pathy and genial manner, and sound com- 
mon sense that friction in co-operation with 
him was an impossibility. This is true also 
of the Rev. Peverley Dodd, the Wesleyan 
239 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

Senior Chaplain, whose aim in life seems to 
be to smooth the way for others, and 
most successful he is in it. Not only does 
he carry on his ministerial duties, but 
superintends the Connaught Home, a large 
institution for soldiers and sailors which 
has proved of great service during these 
war days. 

Rev. C. Marker, the Senior Roman 
Catholic chaplain, has also co-operated in 
a most brotherly fashion in common effort, 
and in their varied duties the different 
chaplains have always sought to assist one 
another by forwarding to the right quarter 
the names of any soldiers they came across 
who wished to see their own chaplain. 
Thus the work has been made easier for all. 

This feeling of good fellowship has cer- 
tainly received inspiration from the head- 
quarters of all denominations, the A.A.G.'s 
sanctum. Major Howard- Vyse, the mili- 
tary officer responsible for the Chaplains' 
Department, has handled his team with 
great skill. If he were an ecclesiastic, I 
would suggest him as the most suitable 

240 




: * 

o 



I I 

fa "' 

S- 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

man for effecting union amongst all the 
churches. After his success in Malta ad- 
vocates of union should keep their eyes 
on him. They might do worse than take 
a few leaves out of his book. 

RELIGIOUS RESULTS 

So much for organisation, now for fruits. 
During the year we have had three special 
evangelistic missions amongst the men with 
very gratifying results. In May the Church 
of England chaplain, along with Rev. 
Donald Campbell and Rev. G. A. Sim, 
started a series of meetings in Imtarfa 
Hospital. These were splendidly at- 
tended, and struck a key-note that has 
distinguished that hospital during all these 
months. The responsive audience here is 
always like a bath to the soul. What is 
left of us after an eight miles' journey in 
the heat and a busy day may be very limp. 
But standing on a platform in a hall where 
practically every chair is occupied, and men 
sing, with an intensity I have never heard 
before, " I need Thee every hour/' makes 
Q 241 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

one forget all physical weakness, and I 
never turn homeward without a strange 
gladness in my heart. Such is the effect 
that certain congregations have on the 
preachers, and I have noticed that every 
chaplain who ministers in turn at Imtarfa 
becomes infected with the religious buoy- 
ancy of the place ; and though they being 
new-comers may not know it, I trace the 
results back to those stirring evenings when 
the first wounded men from Gallipoli con- 
fessed so earnestly their faith in Christ. 
Nearly a hundred of them came forward 
with the old request, " Put down my name, 
sir," as they enrolled themselves under the 
Banner of the Cross. That generation 
quickly passed away, a few weeks at most 
was the length of each man's stay. Mr. 
Campbell, the gracious fragrance of whose 
ministry still seems to me to linger round 
these beds, in due time also left, but the 
blessing remained. The new audiences 
still sing the old hymns made sacred by 
those first nights of consecration. Staff- 
Sergeant Fryer alone is left now to recall 

242 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

those moving moments when men in tens 
gave themselves to God ; and, as his voice 
rings out the notes of the familiar hymns 
that upbore the souls of those men to the 
Throne of Grace, I catch the echo of those 
days. Many of the men who made con- 
fession then had returned to their regiments 
to take part in the battles of the subsequent 
months, and to-day they are no longer 
seeing through a glass darkly but face to 
face. 

Who can take stock of the steady work 
of the chaplain as he goes in and out 
through those death-shadowed wards ? 
Just as you cannot identify the special 
ear of corn in the harvest field that sprouted 
from a particular seed, so it is not possible 
to recognise the fruit of much that seems 
very commonplace service. As Senior 
Chaplain I have been very fortunate in my 
colleagues, who accepted the tradition of 
hard work joyfully. I do not think I over- 
drew for them the picture of Mr. Campbell's 
faithfulness, going forth after breakfast 
with eager feet laden with literature and 
243 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

Testaments for the wounded, returning 
with dragging footsteps for lunch, and 
setting out immediately afterwards on the 
same errand, because he could not think 
of " those poor dear boys passing a night 
in their pain without a prayer, a hand-grip, 
a word of comfort." So he set the pace and 
outdid his own strength, but left an example 
that has stimulated his successors. 

Rev. Alex Macinnes, one of our chaplains, 
has put his experience in the following 
words: 

" We have seen the men in various 
camps and in different stages of their 
training ; the raw recruit, with wonder 
and surprise in his eyes, depression and 
sometimes rebellious thoughts in his heart ; 
the trained soldier, strong, equipped, dis- 
ciplined, intelligent ; the men leaving in 
drafts for the Front, smiling to disguise their 
not unmanly tears, wondering what experi- 
ences awaited them, trusting, many of them 
in the protecting love of the Father God. 
But in Malta we saw sick men, and all our 
previous experiences seemed to go for 

244 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

nothing : sick men, after the privation and 
suffering of the Peninsula. Let it be said 
right away that we never met one discour- 
teous man, one unbeliever, one sceptic. 
All of these may have been there. We 
never met them. The sick soldier seems to 
have no use for scepticism. It might amuse 
him in civil life ; not in Malta. All of 
them were willing to speak about religious 
matters, the soul, the Saviour, Eternal life, 
naturally and easily. It seemed to be the 
main thing to speak about. Some asked 
me to pray with them. All said that they 
would like me to pray when we suggested 
it. On Sabbath how fine our meetings were ! 
The men usually chose the hymns, ' Come 
away boys, shout out the numbers/ 
Whatever the four might be, 'Jesus, Lover 
of my Soul/ and ' Rock of Ages ' were 
always there. Rarely did we hold a ser- 
vice but some lad or lads waited behind to 
talk. They would tell of the Bible Classes 
they had attended, the Church, or Mission 
Hall, the Choir in which they had sung. 
Such experiences were most helpful and 
245 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

encouraging. Many of the lads confessed 
that they had lost their grip of the Unseen ; 
but they were anxious to re-enlist in the 
Army of Jesus Christ. Yes, the Spirit of 
God was at work. The men had had time 
to think. They had looked into the face 
of death. They had seen their companions 
falling by their side. They had realised 
their own miraculous escape. They had 
been brought back from the gates of death. 
God's merciful guardianship was over them, 
and they knew it. Some of them, it must 
be confessed, changed not for the better 
when they became stronger ; but these 
were few. God has done a gracious work 
in the hearts of all of them, and many of 
them left St. David's Camp and the Tent 
which they loved next to their own home 
realising that the Saviour was a real Person, 
the most real Person in all the world/' 

I can only speak of the great moments 
when men confessed their faith in such 
numbers that all took note. Such another 
movement took place at Ricasoli. Again 
all the chaplains of the different denomina- 

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Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

tions united. Mr. Menzies was our repre- 
sentative, as it was in his " parish/* I 
always listen with delight to his preaching ; 
but that Wednesday night, when the 
marquee was packed with wounded men 
and his words about sin went home, I felt 
the responsive throb-beat of that big 
audience as never before. There were quiet 
Scottish lads there, who at home were shy 
about religion, who now with tears in their 
eyes and unashamed made open confession 
of their loyalty to Christ. One feels these 
scenes are almost too sacred to be written 
about, yet it is right that the world should 
know the manner of man we have sent to 
our trenches, and not accept a caricature of 
the British soldier as the conventional type. 
We have seen that type ; but we have also 
seen the boyish laddie who dared to go down 
on his knees to his Maker, and the bronzed 
sergeant who faced unflinchingly a packed 
tent to tell the " old, old story." The men 
of Ricasoli have separated, but I feel sure 
that as long as they live they will not forget 
those nights. The net was again cast, and 
247 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

sixty or seventy made open confession of 
their faith. 

Judging by numbers, the biggest success 
in our work was that obtained in our third 
series of meetings which were held in the 
large camp at Chain Tuffieha. Here again 
all the denominations united, though the 
Rev. J. A. Kaye, the United Board Chap- 
lain, and the Rev. W. L. Levack of Leuchars 
were the soul of the movement. It was in 
the days before the Orkney hut, and the big 
Y.M.C.A. tent was put at our disposal. 
Every night for a week it was crammed to 
the last inch of standing room. No preacher 
could desire a more inspiring audience. 
The array of eager young faces that con- 
fronted the speaker fanned his fervour. 
These are the men who after the war are 
going to set the world right, and one felt 
that they were in the right kind of prepara- 
tory school for that task. Hardship and 
danger like cruel pick-axes were breaking 
the fallow ground of their hearts, and now 
was the moment for sowing the good seed. 
Aptly was it scattered in those furrows, 

248 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

and the result that was immediately mani- 
fest, great though it was, could only be a 
fraction of the spiritual good done. It 
strengthened one's own faith to see how 
interested these young men were in the 
things that pertain to the soul. 

War has its degrading influences, but it 
has also its quickening agencies. Men think 
as never before when confronted by eternity, 
and never once in all my experience have I 
met a wounded soldier who resented any 
reference to religion. In fact I have found 
it nearly always welcomed. 

Strange and sometimes almost amusing 
are the arguments that impress. The other 
day I met a man who let me know with 
some pride that he was an agnostic. I 
might say that he had not been at the Front 
and smelt powder, but had been dropped 
off in Malta as an invalid on the way out. 
I have always found that those who have 
been under fire are much easier of access. 
In fact, after a few minutes' conversation, 
though no reference has been made to the 
subject, one can usually guess correctly 
249 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

whether they have been to Gallipoli or 
not. 

The patient I refer to took me in hand 
from the start, and expounded evolution to 
me in tones that admitted of no contradic- 
tion. 

" The whole universe has evolved itself, 
and we are entirely the product of our en- 
vironment/' he said. " There is no place 
in it for religion. " 

" In fact we are the helpless victims of 
natural law/' I added. 

" Yes, natural law is pitiless. Mercy is a 
thing it does not know. It is unalterable/' 

" But how about its exceptions ? " I 
asked. 

" Exceptions ? " he queried, looking a 
little puzzled. Then he added with em- 
phasis, " It knows nothing about excep- 
tions/' 

" The law, for instance, that heat ex- 
pands is rigid," I said. 

" Yes." 

" If that were so," I continued, "ice 
would then be formed at the bottom of our 

250 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

seas, where no summer sun could reach it, 
and pile itself up with successive winters 
until all our lakes and oceans would be 
filled with ice and the earth become unin- 
habitable. Your law of heat expansion 
required an exception to make life possible. 
Below 32 degrees it is cold that expands. 
Who made that exception ? Someone surely 
who is greater than the law, and who 
is merciful to mortals/' 

It was an old, simple argument that I 
hesitated about producing, yet it torpedoed 
this man's reasoning. I left him with the 
query, and when I returned some days later 
he said, 

" I cannot get that exception out of my 
thoughts. Some higher power has certainly 
interfered with the law of heat." 

" But it is only the Author of the law that 
has the right to amend it and He has done 
it in love." 

From that day the man was very silent, 
and I saw that he was thinking deeply. 
What the result was I had not the means of 
knowing for he passed on. 
251 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 



BIBLE DISTRIBUTION 

The National Bible Society of Scotland 
has been one of our best helpers, and put 
into our hands " the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the Word of God." Three thou- 
sand copies have been sent to us free of 
charge, and these we have handed to the 
wounded. Had I time and space I might 
recount many interesting stories of these 
Testaments. Let me mention two. 

Here is a touching incident told to Rev. 
Donald Campbell by a wounded Glasgow 
Australian lying in the Valletta hospital. 
On Mr. Campbell asking if he had a Testa- 
ment, he replied, " Yes, here is a Bible that 
I picked up on the field of battle near Gaba 
Tepe. ' ' Then he produced a well-bound copy 
of the Scriptures of the Oxford type, bearing 
the inscription, " To Harry from his mother. 
The Lord watch between me and thee when 
we are absent the one from the other, 
17/9/14," and expressing the hope that he 
would be brought home safely to her. 
Close beside the Bible a letter from the 

252 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

mother was lying, which the soldier had 
taken possession of. From it he learned the 
full name of the " Harry " of the inscrip- 
tion. He expressed his confident hope to be 
able to restore the Bible to the mother of 
the young Australian who, he feared, had 
fallen in action. 

Another interesting story was also told 
the same day by a private of the Royal 
Scots. He showed Mr. Campbell a Bible 
through which a bullet had passed and been 
diverted, thus saving his life. He said that 
he had received this copy from Miss Ewing, 
daughter of Dr. Ewing of the Grange, 
Edinburgh. 

Y.M.C.A. WORK 

Malta has afforded another illustration 
of the perfect organisation of the Y.M.C.A. 
Under the energetic guidance of Mr. Wilson, 
its pioneer worker on the island, equipment 
and staff soon kept pace with the sudden 
increase of camps and hospitals. In 
October, 1915, the first marquee was erected 
at St. Paul's Camp, and in November the 
253 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

larger one in All Saints' Camp. At the 
same time the largest tent, a go-foot marquee, 
was set up in Ghain Tuffieha Camp. His 
Excellency the Governor at the opening of 
these tents spoke with warm appreciation 
of the Y.M.C.A. 

The religious element has been kept in 
the foreground. Every day closes with a 
gathering of the men for family worship. 
Their attitude at these moments is the best 
indication that a spiritual as well as a social 
need is being supplied. There is no 
impatience, no grumbling if games are 
interrupted for that purpose. An air of 
reverence at once pervades the scene, 
talking ceases and heads are bowed as 
an account of the day is rendered to 
God. 

The opportunity for educating the minds 
of the convalescents has not been over- 
looked. Historical and general lectures 
have proved very popular, and Lieut. 
Laferla, a Maltese officer, has done much 
by his lectures to inform the men con- 
cerning the history and customs of Malta, 

254 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

Subjects suggested by the War, such as 
" The Growth and Power of the German 
Empire/* have greatly interested the 
audiences. 

Mr. T. B. Wheeler succeeded Mr. W. T. 
Wilson, and he brought to completion the 
work that was started by his predecessor. 
Soon he had eight large tents erected at 
different centres, and he developed the work 
in many ways. One of these was in catering 
for the musical tastes of the men. Male 
voice choirs were formed, and at Chain 
Tuffieha Camp a splendid orchestra was 
organised, the instruments being provided 
by the Countess of Chesterfield's Ladies 
Auxiliary Committee. But the greatest 
success was that scored by Miss Lena 
Ash well's Concert Party, whose services 
offered by the Y.M.C.A. were gratefully 
accepted by His Excellency the Governor, 
and the echoes of one of their songs still 
seem to haunt the island with their blood- 
curdling thrill ! Altogether this party gave 
one hundred concerts. 

Mr, Wheeler soon got erected two large 
255 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

Recreation Huts. One is situated in St. 
Patrick's Camp, and has proved itself a 
welcome centre for the men. Perhaps the 
hot climate of Malta makes these rooms 
even more acceptable than elsewhere. In 
the tent the air grows suffocating by mid- 
day ; outside it is even worse, and it is like 
stepping into a hot oven to venture out ; 
but in the Recreation Hut there is com- 
parative coolness. Hence it is filled. The 
other hut has recently been erected at 
Ghain Tufneha. It is a gift from the 
people of the Orkney Islands, and is worthy 
of its donors. Scotland in this has showed 
itself again " The Land of the Open Hand," 
and Malta can never forget the generous 
part played by it in ministering to the sick 
and wounded. 

The Hut, which is a large one, capable of 
seating five hundred men, was shipped to 
Malta in sections, and erected by the 
convalescents in that camp of the un- 
pronounceable name but of happy signifi- 
cation, "Valley of the Apple." Fully 
equipped for reading, writing and games, 

256 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

with an elegant stage and capacious re- 
freshment bar, it has already proved an 
immense boon to the men busy with try- 
ing to get fit again. Already the grateful 
recipients of the gift have laid out the 
surroundings in gardens and attractive ap- 
proaches. 

Thus has the Y.M.C.A. faced its task in 
Malta. The practical sympathy of His 
Excellency the Governor has done much to 
make the work easier. His gift of the suite 
of rooms in the Palace Buildings for a 
Y.M.C.A. Headquarters has proved most 
valuable. The staff of about thirty has 
done its part well, one whose services have 
been greatly appreciated being Mrs. Holman 
Hunt, the widow of the famous painter. 
But without the organising brain and 
energy of a good leader the present success 
could not have been attained. When Mr. 
Wilson left every earnest worker in the 
island felt that the loss was great ; and now 
that Mr. Wheeler has chosen the sterner 
part of fighting in the trenches instead of 
ministry, the community, while admiring 
R 257 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

his patriotism, feels that the force of a 
strong and wise personality will be sorely 
missed. He is succeeded by Mr. Lewis, who 
has already won the confidence of all. 
Thus in its selection of agents the Y.M.C.A. 
has been most fortunate. 

All the chaplains and religious workers in 
Malta have been greatly encouraged and 
helped in their work by the sympathy and 
ready assistance of His Excellency the 
Governor. A motor was placed at their 
service, and where there were so many 
camps and outlying garrisons this proved 
invaluable. Rev. W. Cowan had taken 
with him a \vonderful little lantern with a 
light whose brilliancy was out of all pro- 
portion to its size, and he had also an 
assortment of slides fit to draw tears to the 
eyes of every homesick Scot. There was 
not a fort on the island at which British 
troops were stationed which had not its 
"Night in Bonnie Scotland." Over fifty 
such lectures were delivered, and it was 
often near midnight when we rumbled back 

258 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

into Valletta through deserted streets in 
our car. 

His Excellency was seconded in all his 
efforts for the good of the men by Lady 
Methuen. She has been ever quick to 
devise means for adding to the comfort of 
the wounded and in caring for the large 
number of young men for whom Valletta 
has its temptations. Her graciousness and 
the esteem which she has earned in Malta 
make her assistance in any endeavour a 
source of great strength and success, and 
ungrudgingly has she given such support 
to all religious and social effort. 

Thus have the hands of the workers been 
upheld, and the way made easy for them ; 
and though the memory of the past year 
is haunted with its nightmare and the 
vision of the glazing eyes and drawn features 
can never be forgotten, across its dark 
background there shines a wonderful rain- 
bow. Malta has added a bright chapter to 
human history, and with reverence will its 
hospitals ever be named ; for there sacrifice 
has once more been enthroned, and unself- 
259 



Religious Work Amongst the Wounded 

ishness garbed in nurse's cape or surgeon's 
uniform proclaimed the triumph of love ; 
and there might be heard for those who 
had ears to hear the footsteps of the Great 
Physician. 



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